Why I Love Budget Espresso Machine

When people suggest me to go for a costly coffee brewer, I tell them that I have a number of reasons why I love budget espresso machines. Number one is the obvious: I am on a budget. I cannot afford to spend more on my coffee. So it is all about sticking to your financial agenda.

Buying Options

The reason number two is that there are enough buying options available in the market. There are good models of reputed brands. One will get at least ten very good options to compare and decide. Then why spend more money on an espresso machine?

best espresso

Quality of Coffee

A major reason is that the taste of coffee does not come from the machine I use but the quality of coffee. No matter how expensive the machine is it cannot make a good cup of coffee out of low-quality beans. So whether one goes for a budget espresso machine or its money-grubbing cousin, the taste of the coffee remains almost the same.

Temperature Consistency

The fourth reason is that I have already invested on a well-performing grinder which does half the job. So all I want my espresso machine to do for me is to offer me temperature consistency. There are machines that are really good at that and they fit into my budget. I do not really need an expensive machine which offers the best grinder because I do not want a grinder at the first place.

It is true that most budget espresso machines have single boilers and that leads to an increase in waiting time, but what people call an inconvenience is not really so. It just needs a little patience and planning which I already have. On the whole, I do not want an expensive machine to brew my coffee, because I know it will pinch me financially and then I may start hating my coffee mug that I want to be eternally in love with.

My New Nonstick Cookware!

I love brunch!!! So any Sunday morning that does not involve going to see my niece or nephew play some athletic event is reserved for Brunch! Mike had another 60-hour work week, so I decided to cook and let him sleep in. We were running a little short on groceries – so what does a girl do??? Frittata!!

I started to reach for my trusty cast iron pan – but then thought again. Eggs and cast iron are such a pain to clean!!! I needed some good non stick cookware set. I grabbed my Scanpan CTQ – nothing sticks to this thing!!! Any piece by Scanpan is going to be good. However, I like the CTQ line for several reasons: you can use it on any cooktop (including induction), it’s dishwasher safe, the riveted steel handle stays cool, and it can handle extreme heat. Mike uses it under the broiler for steaks! (Maybe I’ll suggest that for dinner tonight!) The weight of the skillet is heavy enough to know that you have a good quality piece without being too heavy! I can still manage the skillet, loaded with Frittata, in one hand.

The Best Non Stick Cookware for Your Home

I really watch how much fat creeps into our diet. This skillet doesn’t really even require cooking spray! Nothing sticks to this baby! Everything just slides right out – even after repeated dishwasher use. Although I still can’t figure out why Mike puts it in the dishwasher – you can literally wipe it with a paper towel and it is ready to go! Well… the inside of the skillet is ready to go. That brings me to the ONE thing that I don’t like about the skillet. While the inside is non-stick and dark; the outside is brushed stainless. Ours presently looks like it may have been salvaged from a fire! Ah well, a little baking soda and salt, and she’ll be shining once again! I could do that now – but I think I’ll pour the Mimosas instead!

More: How to shop for a non stick skillet

My New Marinades

Tequila Lime Chicken Marinade

chicken marinade

  • ½ cup gold tequila
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (5 to 6 limes)
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper (1 pepper seeded)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 whole (6 split) boneless chicken breasts, skin on

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chicken breasts. Refrigerate overnight. Heat a grill and brush the rack with oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. Remove the chicken breasts from the marinade, sprinkle well with salt and pepper, and grill them skin-side down for about 5 minutes, until nicely browned. Turn the chicken and cook for another 10 minutes, until just cooked through. Remove from the grill to a plate. Cover tightly and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

More chicken marinades.

Adobo Quail Marinade

quail marinade

  • 4 semi-boneless quail

Adobo Marinade:

  • 2 ancho peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 roma tomatoes, rough chop
  • ½ small onion, rough chop
  • 2 cloves garlic, rough chop
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds, toasted
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar

Add all the ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring the stock to a strong simmer and cover the pan and allow the ingredients to steep for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender cup and process until smooth.

Coat both sides of the quail with adobo and allow to marinade for at least 1 hour. Reserve the remaining adobo sauce to use for platting.

Grill quail over a hot charcoal fire or gas grill. Brush with remaining adobo sauce when the quail come off the fire and serve.

More quail marinades.

The Amazing Bread Making Machine

I love the aroma of a freshly baked baked bread. If you are like me, then you also, most certainly, hate to get it home cold.You should consider having your own bread making machine. Not any other machine, but the best bread maker for optimum bread making experience.

I learnt the hard way before discovering the power of a Zojirushi machine. I initially bought a cheap bread maker that often gave me poor results – the bread was either under cooked, burned, too dense or had poor texture. I replaced it with another brand, which though produced better results, did not last long and I was back to shopping for a bread maker again.

This time I did an extensive research, read customer reviews an eventually settled on a Zojirushi brand, which has consistently delivered exceptional results and still going strong.

While a Zojirushi bread maker may be relatively expensive, it is worth every penny it is priced; if you are looking for quality, convenience, versatility and consistency in a bread maker.

Zojirushi bread makers are available in a variety of models, all of which deliver exceptional results. All the models feature a LCD panel with a wide variety of functions. They also comprise sizable windows to view your bread as it bakes. The motor is also efficient and long lasting.

A Zojirushi bread machine comes with not only one, but twin kneading blades. This feature reduces significantly, the amount of time required to knead the flour to perfection. An efficiently kneaded floor improves the quality and flavor of bread. This explains why the zojirushi bread makers produce delicious bread.

As a beginner, I did not have to worry about how to use a Zojirushi machine. The machines feature a wide range of automatic functions. With the features, you can bake different types of bread: white, rye, gluten free, whole grain and even french bread.

My Rice Cooker Made Cooking Rice Easier

rice_topI am going to share with you my personal recommendations of top rice cookers. These are what you need if you eat rice very frequently like me.

Aroma 12-Cup Sensor Logic ARC-616SB is a unique, egg-like rice cooker has a stainless steel body with an easy handle for moving around. This is an electric rice cooker with logic programming and digital controls with easy-to-understand features. It yields twelve cups of cooked rice from six cups of uncooked rice.

This rice cooker features different functionalities for brown rice, white rice, oatmeal, slow cooking, steaming, cakes and soup. The rice cooker provides a 15-hour timer for delayed cooking. Aroma rice cooker reviews praised this Aroma digital rice cooker for making heating time changes based on elevation, outside temperature and measurement errors, producing tasty rice all the time.

Panasonic SR-DE103 is different from other rice cookers due to its no-frills design. I love its stainless steel body and a black lid without the normal exterior button. It holds up to 5 cups of raw rice and yields ten cups well cooked.

The rice cooker has a fuzzy logic technology that adjust to different conditions cooking prefect, soft rice. The menu entails separate functions for brown, white and sticky rice, and extra options for slow cooking and steaming. The special feature is the delayed timer that offers 24-hours setting in advance (the longest delay on the market).

Zojirushi NP-HBC10 is a stainless steel and egg-shaped electric rice cooker. I find it ideal due to its locking lid that is easy to clean. It has a simple and intuitive digital display for brown rice, white and mixed rice. The rice cooker has extra settings for porridge, sushi rice, baking or soup. The delayed timer enables you to choose when it cooks plus for how long. It has an impressive level of precision and advanced capabilities and features making it among the best rice cooker 2016.

My Short Espresso Machine Review

Whenever ordinary folks or professional coffee brewers are searching for an espresso machine, several preconditions are kept in mind before purchase. In the quest for the best espresso machines under 200, people go online and search for the top espresso machine reviews. Price is a significant factor, and everyone has their budget, it may be under $300 or up to $1000. Whatever the cost one is willing to incur, the espresso machine must fit their suitability of purpose. It may be meant for making a cup of coffee at home or whipping-up a potent brew for clients in a shop; the coffee machine should be simplistic and efficient in meeting a buyer’s needs.

espresso maker

My Personal Experience with These Espresso Machines

The Breville BES870XL Barista Express is unmatched in its filtration capabilities, its adjustable filter bucket has options of one or two-walled filtration. The user also has a 1-16 grinding setting to select the ground beans texture preferred that will go into the filter bucket. It has a removable water tank at its back, with a 2litre capacity to avoid the inconvenience of constant refilling. This espresso machine includes Proportional Integral Derivative (P.I.D) capabilities that guarantee consistency in the kind of coffee brewed. P.I.D is a temperature control system that lets you determine water or milk temperature, and raises the temperature in less than 30 seconds. The Breville BES870XL Barista Express has a light that turns on when the machine needs cleaning, which ensures the machine is kept clean and safe when due.

The De’Longhi EC155ca cannot miss a spot on any top espresso machines review because it a high-performance machine but easy enough for amateurs to use. It has a removable water tank for better cleaning, and is a compact equipment ideal for the kitchen counter. It can grind both coffee and pods, which are deposited later to filter bucket with dual filtration capabilities. A swivel jet frother makes a creamy froth for cappuccino lovers, with a self-priming capability that produces better tasting brews. Its boiler is made of stainless steel which makes a longer lasting piece of equipment.

The Science of Cooking

Cooking is the transfer of energy from a heat source to a food. To cook foods successfully, you must understand the ways in which heat is transferred: conduction, convection and radiation.

Most important, you must understand the cooking methods used to transfer heat: broiling, grilling, roasting and baking, sauteing, pan-frying, deep-frying, poaching, simmering, boiling, steaming, braising and stewing.

Heat Transfer

Heat is a type of energy. When a substance gets hot, the molecules have absorbed energy, which causes the molecules to vibrate rapidly. The molecules start to expand and bounce off one another. As the molecules move, they collide with nearby molecules, causing a transfer of heat energy.

Heat transfer can be transferred to foods through conduction, convection, or radiation. Heat travels through foods by conduction.


Conduction is the movement of heat from one item to another through direct contact. For example, when a flame touches the bottom of a pan, heat is conducted to the pan.

Generally, metals are good conductors. Copper and aluminum are the best conductors, while liquids and gases are poor conductors.

Conduction is a slow method of heat transfer because there must be physical contact from one molecule to another.


Convection is the transfer of heat through a fluid. The fluid may be a liquid or a gas. There are 2 types of convection: natural and mechanical.

Natural convection causes a natural circulation of heat because warm liquids and gases have a tendency to rise while cooler ones fall.

Mechanical convection causes heat to circulate more evenly and quickly through fans or stirring.


Radiation is energy transferred by waves of heat or light striking the food. Two types of radiant heat are infrared and microwave.

Infrared cooking is commonly used with toasters and broilers. These devices use an electric or ceramic element heated to such a high temperature that it gives off waves of radiant heat.

Microwave cooking relies on radiation generated by an oven to heat the food.

The Effects Of Heat

Proteins Coagulate

Coagulation is when proteins transform from a liquid state to a solid state. Examples: the firming of meat fibers and egg whites changing from a clear liquid to a white solid when heated.

Starches Gelatinize

When a mixture of starch and liquid is heated, starch granules swell. The liquid thickens because the starch granules swell to occupy more space. Examples: The thickening of sauces when starch is added.

Sugars Caramelize

As sugars cook, they turn brown and change flavor. Caramelized sugar is used in many sugars, candies, and desserts. In fact, caramelization is used in most flavors we associate with cooking.

Water Evaporates

All foods contain some water. The evaporation of water drys foods during cooking.

Fats Melt

Fats are a greasy, smooth substance that do not dissolve in water. Oils are fats that remain liquid at room temperature. Fats melt when heated and then gradually liquefy. Fats will not evaporate.

More reading about effects of heat here.

How to get the best kitchen knife


Mostly each and every one of us know what a kitchen knife is and how it works. But not everyone has the exact idea on how to handle the kitchen knife properly. The mentality that we as humans have is that kitchen knives are just something that helps us cut the ingredients we want, like our fruits and vegetables. It’s just like any other device that we have. But isn’t the kitchen knife worth more than that? Kitchen knives are a chef’s best friend. And there might also be times where the knives are not used in the proper way. In choosing a kitchen knife, you should first read  the best kitchen knife set reviews before you make any purchase to ensure that you’re selecting the right one.

First and foremost, do you know who is the knife’s best friend? It is the chopping board. The chopping boards we use are as important as the knives we use. Have you been using the right chopping boards? Do you know the best chopping board to use while cutting your ingredients? Plastic boards, wooden boards and bamboo boards are among the best chopping boards to use. These type of boards are not too hard and they don’t bring harm to your knives. Boards that you should refrain yourself from are ceramic boards, stone boards and metal boards as it will damage your knife and ruin the sharpness of it. The surfaces of this boards are hard hence bringing harm to the knives you are using.

cooking knife

When I say knives are a chef’s best friend, I also mean that it should be everyone’s best friend. When you are choosing a knife, choose a knife that you feel comfortable with. Not everyone is comfortable with using the same knife. Everyone has their own touch to the knives they use. The best knife I use for myself most certainly do not have to be the same for someone close to me or even my mother. That is because each of us have our own grip on the knives we use. With that said, it is quite advisable that before purchasing a knife, you test it first to feel the grip and fit.

Who said blunt knives are better and not harmful? Blunt knives are way dangerous than sharp ones in a way. That is because when your knives are sharp you actually cut yourself lesser as you don’t need to put in full force to cut something and waste so much energy on it. Sharp knives do not need you to put in too much energy compared to blunt knives as when you are cutting you won’t exactly know the direction of the knife and it may slip and hurt you.

For your own safety, after using the knife, place it in the place it is supposed to be in, for example the knife drawer or the knife block and not into the sink especially if you have soapy waters in there or else you will be ending up with a sliced finger or you could even hurt your hand. So, use the knife, wash it, dry it and place it in a safe place where it does not bring harm to you are our loved ones. Learn the correct way to use the knife and the proper technique for your own safety. The most common mistake that people do is hold the things we are cutting with our fingers resting freely on the ingredients. That is not right. Use the knuckles of your finger to help you grip your ingredients. Fold your fingers under and use your knuckles to help you while you are cutting. It is better to hurt your knuckle a little rather than cutting off your finger don’t you think!

Last but not least, how do you buy your knives? Easy. Go to a shop that sells knives, choose the one you want, hold it, compare the grip and how comfortable you are with the knives and the ones you feel is the one is the knife that suits you. Never op for set knives. Yes, it may be in a set and it may be cheap or cool to have a set of knives but not all of those knives in the set will have the perfect grip for you and it may not be the knife you are comfortable using. Apart from that, always remember to have your own space when you are cutting something. Clear the area you are going to use to cut your ingredients and remove unnecessary items from there. That way, you can secure your safety and not have a messed up chopping area.

Related source: Pcn Chef


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