Make A Splash With These Bathroom Trends

Although it’s well known that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, it tends to be the bathroom that gets the raw end of the deal in the renovation stakes. Because we spend more time in our kitchens, cooking up a storm, socializing and having a chat with pals over coffee, we invest much more of our hard earned cash into the cabinetry, appliances, and styling within this hub of the home. However, the importance of a chic bathroom should not be underestimated. Take a look at these on-trend bathroom styles to inspire your next renovation project.

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The Essentials

The bathroom suite that you choose will set the tone for the entire room. You could opt for a rain head double shower, buy an elegant freestanding tub and opt for his and hers sinks. By giving your bathroom a boutique hotel look complete with floor to ceiling tiling, slate flooring, and subtle spotlights, you are creating a haven of relaxation. By showing off a lifestyle, it’s much easier to seduce potential buyers if you’re planning to sell anytime soon. In the meantime, you can light a candle or two, pour in the bath foam and enjoy a long hot soak in the tub after a particularly stressful day at work.

Mirrors

Many bathrooms are small and can feel dingy. If you’re particularly unlucky, you may not even have a window which means you have an extractor type fan to rely on to try and get rid of the moisture within the room. On top of this, natural light is at a bare minimum. To try and counteract this, you can install mirrors to bounce any light you do have across the room. Alongside tiles, with a sheen finish, you can increase the amount of reflective surface you have within your bathroom. You could select an antique or vintage mirror, opt for a mirror with a heavily beveled and expensive finish or choose something a little more modern like a theater dressing room type piece complete with surrounding lights.

Configuration

The en vogue trend at the moment is four piece suites. If you have the space try and separate out your bath and shower space. Others are choosing to concentrate more on the shower cubicle rather than the bath, opting for convenience rather than luxury. Keep your basin small to conserve space and hide the pipework and cistern of your toilet to create a more minimalist and unfussy finish to your renovation.

Don’t forget the finishing touches to a bathroom. You need to seal the windows, protect tiling grout from mold and scum and ensure that the showerhead remains free from limescale. There’s nothing worse than black mildew encroaching on your wonderful design. A clean bathroom is paramount.

Bathrooms, while not the hub of our homes, are an integral part. It’s vital that you’re able to invest the time and money needed in order to create a designer look that matches the rest of your home.

Cooking With Honey – The Healthy Sweetener

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If you want to be able to cook sweets without the negative health effects of refined sugar, honey is an excellent option. Among other reasons, honey is metabolized more slowly by your body, meaning that you are less likely to get a sugar “high” after eating something made with honey.

Honey can be challenging to cook with, though, for several reasons. So many people don’t cook with it because they don’t know how. But once you know how to use honey in your favorite kitchen creations, it’s not hard at all to use.

The first challenge that honey presents is that it burns more easily that normal sugar. This problem is usually eliminated by doing your cooking or baking at a slightly lower heat.

The main hurdle to cooking with honey is that it is a liquid. Replacing sugar with honey will ruin some recipes if you don’t make an allowance for the extra liquid that the honey adds.

Most muffins, simple quick breads, yeast breads, etc you can make the substitution without any adjustment. Cakes, cookies and some other recipes you should decrease the amount of liquid in the recipe to account for the honey.

Honey is also very easy to use in pies. Since they are already somewhat liquid, you can replace the sugar with honey. If the pie filling seems too runny, just add a little extra thickener before you pour it in your pie shell.

The flavor of honey can sometimes be an issue, but not usually. If you are making a recipe that you don’t want the flavor to be noticeable, there are several things you can try. First of all, get the mildest flavored honey you can. Usually that will be a very pale clover honey. (The paler the honey, the sweeter and milder the flavor, in general.)

If necessary, you can use part honey, and part some other sweetener, such as apple juice concentrate, agave nectar, stevia, or even sugar if you have to.

Cooking With Eggs

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We use eggs in so many recipes. They are a staple in the kitchen.

An egg can be cooked alone  boiled, poached, fried, scrambled.
Or used as an ingredient in baking, batters and cakes.
Alternatively use an egg to thicken sauces or to add air to lighten dishes.

The egg is truly amazing. And without it  well our menus sure would be dull.

But do you know much about the egg?

Chances are that you have never even given it a thought. Well it is time you did.

When first laid, the egg has barely any air inside a tiny air pocket. However, because the shell is porous, it allows air to penetrate. And as time passes, air moves inside the egg and the air pocket grows.

As this air pocket enlarges, the moisture in the egg evaporates. So, as the egg gets older the yolk becomes less plump and flatter and the white separates and spreads.

And this all impacts on cooking. Depending on how you intend on using the egg determines how fresh an egg you should use.

If you fry an older egg, you will end with a flat ‘pancake’ instead of a neat rounded egg.

The more stale an egg the more fragile and difficult to separate it will be.

As opposed to the fresh egg, which has a tight and tough inner skin. This makes peeling the shell off the boiled egg very frustrating. As the egg ages with skin relaxes allowing the shell to peel much easier.

If you are lucky enough to have your own hens, then you know how old your eggs are. But what if you have to buy them?

The easiest method of tell how old an egg is, is to put the egg in a dish of water.

If it sinks and lies horizontally – very fresh.
If it sinks but tilts slightly – about 1 week old.
If it sinks but stands vertically – older, stale.
But if it floats – it’s off and be careful not to crack the shell.

Some people prefer brown eggs and some white. But nutritionally they are the same.

The yolks will also vary in color depending of the diet of the hen.

Do you find your eggs crack when boiling? Well, follow these simple steps to get perfect eggs, every time.

Use 2 week old eggs and ensure they are at room temperature. Make as pin prick in the rounded flat end of the egg  this allows any steam that might build up to escape.

Use as small a saucepan as possible, so the eggs fit in snuggly  you don’t want to much space otherwise they may bounce around and crack.

Bring to the boil but only simmer do not boil vigorously. Follow these tips and your eggs won’t crack.

So, for frying and poaching use as fresh an egg as possible. When the recipe calls for eggs to be separated, use fresh eggs as well. But if you want easy to peel eggs use the older ones. And when it comes to scrambling, fresher is best but older ones will do.

 

Cake Decorating Ideas For All Occasions

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You really don’t need a special occasion to decorate a cake, but some events that can be made unforgettable and extra special with a decorated treat are holidays, birthdays, graduations, religious occasions, showers, weddings, and other personal special events.

Here are some cake decorating ideas that will help you make any occasion special:

New Year’s Champagne Toast

Bake one 9 in. round and one 9×12 in. rectangle cake.

Cut the round in half. Use one half for the top of the champagne glass.

Cut a 2 or 3 inch long strip for the stem of the glass and a 2 x 4 inch section for the base of the glass. Piece them together to form the champagne glass. To be sure all the pieces stay together, lightly frost each piece separately before you piece them together.

Place the pieces on a cake board. Ice the top part (straight edge) of the half round cake and the stem and base sections in white icing. Ice the bottom part (rounded edge) of the half-round cake in light yellow or light pink icing to resemble champagne.

Easter Egg Hunt (So easy kids can do it!)

Bake 6 large muffins. Cool and frost them with green icing. Generously sprinkle green shredded coconut on top of the frosting to resemble grass. Place colored jelly beans within the coconut so they are half-hidden. Place small bunny toppers on the top of the muffins so they look as if they are finding the jelly beans.

To tint shredded coconut, place coconut in a plastic bag. Add a few drops of food color. Knead color into coconut. Dry on waxed paper.

Spooky Halloween Brownies (Let the kids help!)

Bake your favorite brownies. When cooled, cut into 3-inch circles, using a cookie cutter or a pattern and sharp knife. Place a Halloween stencil (available in most stores) in the center of each brownie. Sprinkle the stencil with confectioner’s (powdered) sugar. Remove the stencil. Edge the top and the bottom of brownie with tip 14 white icing stars.

Shiny Christmas Ornament

Bake a one or two-layer round cake. Ice the cake smooth with white icing. Pipe tip 5 white icing lines across the top at 1-inch intervals. Vary the shapes of the lines, making one straight, one zigzag, one curvy, etc. to resemble decorations on an ornament. Randomly pipe tip 5 icing balls and tip 16 stars between the lines also to resemble decorations.

ADULT BIRTHDAY / SPECIAL OCCASION

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

Bake a heart-shaped cake and a heart-shaped mini-cake. Ice the larger cake smooth with pink icing. Place the mini-cake in the center of the larger cake. Cover the mini cake in tip 16 red icing stars. Add a tip 14 red icing shell border at the bottom of the mini cake and a tip 16 red icing shell border at the top and the bottom of the large cake. Write your message in pink with tip 3 on the mini-cake.

KIDS BIRTHDAY

Rainbow Train

Bake four mini loaf cakes. (about 3-1/2 x 4-1/2 inches each.)

Ice each one smooth  one with red icing, one with blue icing, one with green icing, and one with yellow icing. Use the cake iced in red as the engine: Make a smokestack for the engine with 2 large marshmallows. Frost them together with green icing. Attach the marshmallows to the top of engine with a toothpick. Using green icing, attach a piece of white curly ribbon or candy on the top of the smokestack for smoke and attach two white or yellow gum drops to the front of the engine for headlights. With a spatula, place a small mound of yellow icing on top of the yellow car; add small chocolate chips to resemble coal. Place two or three small plastic cars on top of the blue car. Stick small stick candies, such as licorice pieces on top of the green car to resemble metal parts. Decorate the sides of the cars with various small hard candies for decorations. For wheels: With icing the same color as the car, attach 4 large candy discs, such as peppermint swirls, to the bottom of each car. Connect the cars with one inch licorice whips or pretzel sticks.

10 Great Tips On Cooking Meals

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If you are as busy as most people you are always looking for ways to feed your family in convenient, fast, yet not too expensive ways. Try the following suggestions:

1. Cooking several meals for the week at one time. It may take a few hours of your time up front but will pay off in the long run when you come home each evening and have a meal ready to eat in a short amount of time. Try cooking a roast and using part of it as a main meal and then using some for sandwiches, beef stroganoff or as part of a stir-fry. Fry several pounds of hamburger and make a casserole, taco meat and chili to freeze for use later in the week.

2. After you return home from the grocery store clean all the fruits and vegetables you can. When it’s time for a meal all you will have to do is cook them or add them to a salad or soup.

3. Get ideas from the cooking shows on T.V. There are great shows that show you how to make a healthy meal in a short time.

4. Develop a revolving recipe file. If you get bogged down by the idea of having to plan 30 meals a month the recipe file is for you. Let family members choose some of their favorites and put the recipes in a monthly file. Flip to day five or fifteen and there is the meal just waiting to be cooked.

5. Enlist the help of the members of your family. As soon as the kids are old enough divide up the cooking responsibilities. Let everyone take turns with specific tasks or the whole meal. Pair these meals with fruit and veggies that have already been washed and cut-up and you are ready for dinner.

6. Share the cooking with friends or neighbors. I’ve known people who cook four or five of the same meal and then trade with four or five other people. This works best when people share the same basic ideas on what they like and don’t like. It’s a great idea though for a very easy week of evening meals.

7. Save coupons for those convenience things at the grocery store. They have entire entrees and dinners either fresh or frozen. Sometimes they are rather pricy but with the coupons they are good to have on hand for an evening when everyone is running in different directions and time is of the essence.

8. It’s O.K. to eat out from time to time. Clip coupons for these occasions and if you have kids keep a look-out for the places that have special prices for children. Some of the fast-food restaurants are trying to offer item choices that are a little more healthy.

9. Many larger cities have businesses that prepare food for the evening meal. They seem expensive at first but are so convenient and available for one person or entire families. There are many menu choices and meals cooked for special diets. When you calculate the groceries you buy and the times you eat out each week, this may work for you.

10. Combine several of the above ideas into a plan that is best for you.

It is possible with a little planning to cook meals that are quick and easy without spending hours in the kitchen every day.

3 Ways To Cook The Perfect Rice

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Rice may be cooked by 3 methods, each of which requires a different proportion of water. These methods are boiling, which requires 12 times as much water as rice; the Japanese method, which requires 5 times as much; and steaming, which requires 2-1/2 times as much. Whichever of these methods is used, however, it should be remembered that the rice grains, when properly cooked, must be whole and distinct. To give them this form and prevent the rice from having a pasty appearance, this cereal should not be stirred too much in cooking nor should it be cooked too long.

BOILED RICE – Boiling is about the simplest way. Properly boiled rice not only forms a valuable dish itself, but is an excellent foundation for other dishes that may be served at any meal. The water in which rice is boiled should not be wasted, as it contains much nutritive material. This water may be utilized in the preparation of soups or sauces, or it may even be used to supply the liquid required in the making of yeast bread.

Wash the rice carefully and add it to the boiling salted water. Boil rapidly until the water begins to appear milky because of the starch coming out of the rice into the water or until a grain can be easily crushed between the fingers. Drain the cooked rice through a colander, and then pour cold water over the rice in the colander, so as to wash out the loose starch and leave each grain distinct. Reheat the rice by shaking it over the fire, and serve hot with butter, gravy, or cream or milk and sugar.

JAPANESE METHOD – Rice prepared by the Japanese method may be used in the same ways as boiled rice. However, unless some use is to be made of the liquid from boiled rice, the Japanese method has the advantage of being a more economical way of cooking this cereal.

Wash the rice, add it to the boiling salted water, and boil slowly for 15 minutes. Then cover the utensil in which the rice is cooking and place it in the oven for 15 minutes more, in order to evaporate the water more completely and make the grains soft without being mushy. Serve in the same way as boiled rice.

STEAMED RICE – To steam rice requires more time than either of the preceding cooking methods, but it causes no loss of food material. Then, too, unless the rice is stirred too much while it is steaming, it will have a better appearance than rice cooked by the other methods. As in the case of boiled rice, steamed rice may be used as the foundation for a variety of dishes and may be served in any meal.

Wash the rice carefully and add it to the boiling salted water. Cook it for 5 minutes and then place it in a double boiler and allow it to cook until it is soft. Keep the cooking utensil covered and do not stir the rice. About 1 hour will be required to cook rice in this way. Serve in the same way as boiled rice.