Inexpensive Steps to Give Your Kitchen a Professional Makeover


Photo by: Chalon Handmade (

All along, you thought your kitchen was outstanding. Then, you happened to browse an interior design magazine and discovered that there are homes out there with professional kitchens, and these homes don’t even belong to rich or well-known people. So now you promptly realized that your home kitchen was plain. Should you hit the panic button? Well no, not unless you think all hope is lost.

You need to realize, though, that on top of everything else, professional kitchens (or commercial kitchens) are usually set up for efficiency. That is very different with home kitchens, which are usually set up to look nice. A home kitchen is where most candid family moments happen. However, if you decide to turn your kitchen into a professional-looking one, you might lose the warmth that’s normally associated with home kitchens. Besides, commercial kitchen appliances cost a fortune!

Now you’re faced with a quandary. How can you give your home kitchen a professional makeover without spending too much and without losing its warmth? Here are a few tips:

1. Survey your kitchen’s layout. Do you see stuff that shouldn’t belong there? Check out your cupboards and cabinets. You probably have serving stuff in there like silverware, serving bowls, glasses, and dishes. These presentation items take up space in your kitchen that you could otherwise have delegated to tools you need to prepare food. In a professional kitchen, you won’t see seldom-used service items in cabinets simply because these are useless in food preparation. So get these out of the way (you probably have a china cabinet with ample space) to make room for the tools and things you actually need to cook.

2. Inspect your gadgets. Check out the kitchen gadgets you use for cooking. You might have amassed more than is necessary because you can’t seem to get enough of Ikea. Nevertheless, ask yourself, “Do I really need this tomato knife that can supposedly cut through the ripest tomato without causing much damage to its too-soft skin?” What about that garlic peeler or garlic press? Most brilliant chefs get more things done using a single knife as long as it is sharp. Besides, garlic presses are hard to clean. On that note, get rid of single-use kitchen gadgets and stick to traditional, time-tested tools.


Image credit: stockimages (

3. Buy a couple of hotel pans that you can use to hold the food you have just whipped up. In that way, you free up a pan or a pot for whatever dish you will be cooking next. Hotel pans are great because they fit nicely in your refrigerator. You can simply get a portion of the dish to serve to your family and leave the rest untouched in the pan. After your meal, just cover it with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Half hotel pans are what you need in a professional kitchen – efficient, space-saving, and time-saving.

storage shelving

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4. Buy a speed rack that you can use to hold the food you’ve just gotten out of the oven. The speed rack is great for cooling the food before you place it in the refrigerator. However, you can also conveniently use a speed rack as a highly efficient and reconfigurable shelf to hold utensils, hotel pans, various miscellaneous items you use for cooking and staple ingredients like salt, pepper, and oil.

There you have it – four simple tips to give your kitchen a professional makeover without breaking the bank. Remember, having a professional kitchen doesn’t mean giving your kitchen a major overhaul and buying an entirely new set of kitchen appliances and equipment. It merely means making your kitchen as efficient as possible while making use of stuff you already have.

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A Successful Birthday Party Would Depend on Party Supplies

Photo credit: Frame Angel (

Photo credit: Frame Angel (

Kids are such demanding creatures. When their birthdays are up, they would nag their parents to throw them the best party ever. Since parents know that kids would be kids only once in their lifetime, they often give in to the whims of young ones. This begins the long and often frustrating search for an online costume shop that would make the party even more complete and memorable. Fortunately, the Internet makes it easier for parents to search for suppliers and event organizers that could help them out.

Be Resourceful

Actually, many online stores offer party supplies and even costumes. Most of these stores have the best bargains on the coolest items. Nevertheless, only a few would stand out and would be worth your time and effort. That’s because only a few stores would offer the best items made of top quality materials at affordable prices. Other stores would only take you for a ride while the rest have inferior items. Remember that the online costume shop you will find would do a lot to change the complexion of your party and make it even more special.

Hence, you need to be resourceful. Since you already have the power of the Internet at your fingertips, work double time in finding an all-around party supplier that offers unique and unconventional party supplies and favors to make your child’s party rock.

Be Creative

It’s become normal for parent-hosts to give away loot bags filled with candies and small toys during their kids’ parties. These days, though, people are all for party favors that are out of the ordinary, and the same goes for kids.

Kids nowadays are so creative, you’d be amazed at the things their capable of producing. Parents hosting children’s parties would do well to take advantage of this creativity by giving kids party favors that are useful and practical. Here are a few examples:

1. Loom band kits – These loom bands are all the rage right now. Everywhere you look, you’ll see someone sporting colorful loom bands of different designs on their arms. Kids would have a field day creating their own loom bands and trying to best each other with their unique designs.

2. Mason jars – Normally, mason jars are used to preserve foods. However, for your child’s party, you could give small mason jars to each guest, along with some art supplies. Tell the kids to decorate the mason jars as they please. At the end of the party, announce to the kids that they can take home their self-decorated mason jars to keep.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

3. Arts and crafts supplies – Let the kids try face painting or any other type of art activity that allows them to explore their creativity. Just make sure there are aprons or bibs available to keep their clothes clean and tidy.

Be Fun

When throwing a party for kids, the most important tip is to allow the kids to have fun. Parents should never be party poopers. Instead, they should allow each guest to have the time of their lives. Make them wear costumes, give them awesome supplies and favors like the ones mentioned above, and just let them be kids.

Indeed, the successful organization of your child’s birthday party would depend a lot on the various elements that would add fun to the party. Kids get bored easily. Hence, you need to find items that would make them pay attention no matter how long the party lasts. Keeping kids hooked until the end of the party is proof that you passed the birthday party test with flying colors. This knowledge shouldn’t pressure you. Rather, it should inspire you to do everything you can to make your kid’s party something he’ll remember for the rest of his life.

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6 Advantages of Renting over Buying Catering Equipment


Photo credit: Jixar (

Those in the catering business know that having the right equipment is the key ingredient to ensuring its success. When we say ‘right equipment,’ that includes everything you will need to deal with the organization and logistics while on a catering job. This is probably something that most people don’t realize. There’s more to catering than just preparing delectable food.

For instance, if you have an event, the host may ask you to prepare some of the food on the venue. Hence, you would need to transport ingredients and cooking utensils along with the usual – food warmers, holding cabinets, slow cook ovens, dinnerware, flatware, buffet ware, a complete set of chafing dishes, and so much more. On top of that, you need to make sure the food you have prepared won’t go dry with time. You also have to ensure that each item on the menu looks attractive and appetizing.

Given everything you need to take care of, two questions arise. First, should you buy catering equipment or are you better off renting what you need? Second, should you decide to go for the latter, what are the advantages of renting over buying catering equipment?

If you’re barely starting your catering business, the obvious choice is to rent the equipment you need especially if your start-up capital is not that big. Here are some reasons why renting becomes your best option in this case:

  1.      Renting is a more affordable option.

 As mentioned above, it’s more practical to rent the equipment you’ll need if you are just starting out and may be a tad hesitant to shell out money for expensive equipment. Renting gives you temporary access to catering equipment you’ll need if you can’t afford them right now.

  1.      Renting allows you to manage your cash flow easily. 

A start-up catering business can’t afford to make rash decisions regarding finances. It is during the early stages of a business when the money going out is more than the money going in. By renting equipment, you’ll have enough funds to tide you over to your next event while still managing to buy the ingredients you’ll need for the menu you’ll be preparing.

  1.      There’s a wider range of choices when you rent catering equipment.

When you buy your own equipment as well as everything else you’ll need to cater an event, you will have to make do with what you have. It might take you some time before you can add new items to your current equipment, and even then, you’d have to be a frugal purchaser. That won’t happen when you rent. You would have access to a wider range of choices especially when it comes to tableware. And you can rent equipment specific to your event’s requirements

  1.      Renting lets you test out different kinds of equipment.

When you rent catering equipment, you’ll get to test which equipment would be most effective. In that way, when you finally have the funds to buy your own equipment, you can choose the ones that work best for you.

PR-mussoicrecreammakerOn a side note.. back in 2012, I had a gig catering for a kid’s 7th birthday and a child’s birthday is never without ice cream. I wanted to try this Musso ice cream maker but didn’t have the $1000+ budget for it. I’m not even making profits enough to hire me an extra hand so renting was the only option. I rented a Musso ice cream from The other parents in the party were so impressed that some of the called me later and hired me for their own kids’ birthday party. Perhaps, 3 more gigs to go and I’d be able to afford one of my own.

  1.      Renting lets you experience newer and more modern equipment.

Most catering equipment for rent are top-of-the-line and new. You’ll get to experience the functionality and efficiency of the equipment, which in turn, gives you more options to choose from when it’s time to upgrade to better tools of the trade.

  1.      Renting eases your mind off worries.

When you rent, you’ll never have to worry about anything breaking down since most catering equipment being rented out are trusted quality and are always kept in top condition. You have the option to choose by brand that is reputable for its quality and durability.

Obviously, there are many advantages to renting catering equipment. However, you can’t discount the disadvantages, too, and while there are several, the stark disadvantage to renting catering equipment is that it is likely to get more expensive over time.

Perhaps, at the early stages of your business, renting is a viable option. Nevertheless, if you’re looking to grow your business and expand in the future, investing in the equipment you’ll need is the best choice.


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Kitchen Ingredients You Can Use for Homeopathic Treatments

One thing I love about my kitchen is that I’ve got almost everything I need in there. And I mean everything – including quick remedies for bruises, burns and even certain symptoms of illnesses.

So if you suffer from hypertension or arthritis or have a sudden attack of heartburn, you might want to check your pantry first for fast relief, especially if you can’t go and rush to a clinic yet.

Search your cupboard for the listed ingredients here that aren’t only common items for a lovely dinner, but also amazing for homeopathic treatments.


Image courtesy of Wild Tofu


  • The pungent garlic, both raw and cooked, has certain properties said to be capable of controlling blood pressure (BP) and cholesterol levels.
  • Consume daily 1-2 cloves of garlic, which can be crushed into pieces with your hands. This process creates hydrogen sulphide, which can improve the flow of blood, remove gas, and reduce high blood pressure that forces the heart to work harder.
  • Another way is to drink twice daily a solution made of 5-6 drops of garlic juice to 4 teaspoons of water.


  • This green, leafy vegetable has a high level of 3-N-butylphthalide, a phytochemical that can help control your BP level.
  • Patients who regularly consume celery can notice improvement in their condition. The vegetable has the ability to reduce the stress hormones responsible in constricting blood vessels.
  • Munching on a crunchy celery stalk is a fun way of lowering blood pressure. Others also make it into a juice.

Cayenne Pepper

  • This spice helps the blood to flow smoothly by preventing it from clumping and accumulating together in the blood stream.
  • Cayenne pepper can be added to fresh fruits, vegetables, and soups. Just a little pinch can be enough because cayenne pepper is very spicy.
  • Chilli, Spanish Romesco sauce and even Mexican chocolate desserts are some common recipes that use this spice.


Image courtesy of Eliot Phillips


  • It’s a notable healing root especially known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Eating raw ginger or drinking ginger tea helps improve blood circulation. It’s also famous for healing sore throat.
  • It can also be crushed and applied directly on swollen, stiff and painful joints.


  • It’s one of the priciest and most aromatic spices you’ll find. But it doesn’t only smell good; it can make you feel good, too, if you’ve got some arthritis pain every once in a while.
  • Half teaspoon of cinnamon powder and one tablespoon of honey in a cup of warm water is a good home remedy. Take it every morning on an empty stomach for great results.
  • Another way is to make a paste of cinnamon and honey for topical application.

Epsom Salt

  • A good source of magnesium, it helps regulate body pH levels.
  • Mix with fresh lemon juice combined with a half-cup of warm water and take this solution twice a day
  • You can also put 3-4 cups of Epsom salt in your tub of warm water and enjoy a relaxing bath.

Minor Burns

Image courtesy of Evan Bench


  • Honey’s been a miraculous topical burn salve since ages ago. It’s said to be an excellent wound disinfectant and burn remedy mainly because it helps draw out fluids, helping you avoid infection.
  • You may directly apply the honey to the burnt skin and leave it on for a few minutes until the sting wears off.
  • You can also put some honey on a gauze bandage and put the honey-side of the bandage directly on the burn. You should change the bandage 3-4 times a day until the burn is healed.


  • Oatmeal’s anti-oxidant properties can help not only your digestive system and your heart. With its anti-inflammatory elements, they can also help relieve the sting and itch of minor burns.
  • You can use it as a bath treatment: Crumble 1 cup uncooked oatmeal while running lukewarm water into the tub. Soak 15-20 minutes. Then let your body dry without using a towel. Let the thin coating of oatmeal remain on your skin for another 20 minutes or so.


Image courtesy of Coqui the Chef


  • It’s one of the famous natural antacids you can find at home. Leucocyanidin, a flavonoid found in bananas, has the ability to promote the thickness of your stomach’s mucous membrane.
  • Eating bananas regularly help neutralize acidity, making them an excellent remedy for heartburn and more serious troubles like ulcer and is complications.


  • Another home remedy for heartburn is by drinking a glass of milk, as long as it’s the cold lactose-free type.
  • Stay away from milk that’s rich in lactose as it promotes acid formation and eventually boost heartburn.


  • Ginger is used not only for heartburn, but also for mild tummy-soothing functions and serious digestive problems. It treats and soothes the inflammation caused by heartburn in the chest and throat.
  • You can use this raw, cooked or even in the form of tea.

So keep those cupboards stacked with these ingredients. But don’t forget, too, that these are often quick fixes only. Remember to consult a physician also the soonest you can.

Valentine Idea – A Cosy Wine-and-Cheese Date at Home

Image courtesy of ilovebutter on Flickr

Image courtesy of ilovebutter on Flickr

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you’re probably planning something special for you and your special someone. I’m sure the challenge of making things more unique, intimate or impressive is slowly getting to you year after year. This time, why not make it more romantic by setting up your own wine and cheese date at home?

After all, this succulent pairing just naturally spells romance and warmth. And for those into food and good times, one of the most delectable journeys you could go on is finding their perfect match.

You can go on and on with all the considerations when it comes to wine and cheese pairings – tannins, fat, acidity and texture, among others. But if your goal is just to enjoy a lovely meal on a romantic night, you can simply the equation. You can concentrate on only the basics and determine what you and your date would love to feast on.

Checking out the cheeses

Familiarize yourself with the four major categories of cheese:

Fresh – usually tangy or mild, not usually aged and often spreadable (ex. mozzarella, feta, ricotta)
Blue – pungent, sometimes salty and always with a hint of blue (ex. bleu, gorgonzola, stilton)
Bloomy – has a soft rind, creamy and decadent (ex. brie, camembert, robiola)
Hard – may be aged, often has a sharp and/or salty taste and stiff (ex. parmesan, gouda, cheddar, gruyere)

Before choosing your wine, the first thing you need to do is think of a specific cheese and consider which of the four categories it belongs to. Taste the cheese to get a sense of its character. Then bite into some more, but make sure you follow it up with a sip of wine to see how the tastes mix. Your choice of wine should either complement or contrast the flavour of the cheese, although many experts say white wine pairs better with cheese.

Choosing your type

Of course, it would be a good idea to buy 2 or more cheeses. If you’re still clueless as to what you should get, ask for recommendations from the cheesemonger. If you’re trying to impress someone, 4-5 varieties would do. Don’t worry – delis usually sell portions cut for a sampler for two people, so you don’t need to buy a whole block or wheel of each kind.

You need to keep in mind to serve the cheeses at their proper temperatures. This is important so the flavours of both can emerge. Generally, cheeses are best enjoyed if you remove them from the refrigerator 30 minutes to an hour before serving.

Wines – to chill or not to chill

Serving wine that’s too warm will reveal too much of its alcohol taste. Too cold, it will definitely refresh you, but it will lose its taste and character.

White – You also read often that it’s “best served chilled, “ which means you need to put the bottle in the refrigerator an hour and a half before serving, or you can place it in an ice bucket with an ice-water mixture 20 minutes prior.

But how chilled is “chilled”? It differs according to type. Here’s a simple guide for you:

  • Champagne and sparkling whites – 45 degrees F is the average temperature experts recommend for these types.
  • White zinfandel, sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio – Perfect when they’re at a little lower than 50 degrees F.
  • White burgundy, chardonnay or any rich, full-bodied and barrel-fermented white wine – About 52-55 degrees F is the best temperature for this.

Red – In a way, reds follow a similar rule as whites: the fuller-bodied should be served warmer than the lighter and more fruity ones, which should be cool and refreshing.

  • Beaujolais, madeira, zinfandel and the fruity types – Ideally served at about 54-60 degrees F
  • Bordeaux, cabernet sauvignon and other intense reds and ports – Less than room temperature but definitely not cellar. Pinot noir and the likes should be at about 61 degrees, while shiraz is best at 65 degrees F.

For more detailed temperature recommendations for different types of reds and whites, see this Better Tasting Wine article.

Glass it up

Your cheeses are ready and your wine’s chilling in the fridge. So what do you do now?

Setting the mood for intimacy also involves choosing the right wine glasses. If you want your date to appreciate the wine you’ll serve, select glassware that balances the aroma, taste and aesthetic appeal of the wine.

While you’ll go crazy with the variety of wine glasses you’ll discover when you shop or even browse on the Internet, don’t panic and relax. You actually need only 2-3 types in your home for white wine, red and sparkling or Champagne.

  • For the red wine, use a glass that has a large, round bowl that helps you enjoy more the aroma of the full-bodied, intense liquid.
Image courtesy of rick on Flickr

Image courtesy of rick on Flickr

  • A wine glass with a smaller bowl and narrower rim is made for white wine. Its shape and size helps the wine retain its taste, smell and temperature.
Image courtesy of Dinner Series on Flickr

Image courtesy of Dinner Series on Flickr

  • A flute is reserved for Champagne and other sparkling wines as it helps keep the bubbles from escaping.
Image courtesy of vmiramontes on Flickr

Image courtesy of vmiramontes on Flickr

White wine glasses and flutes are meant to be held at the stem to keep its temperature longer, while the red wine glasses are to be held by the bowl.

Finally, when you fill the wineglass, never do so to the brim. Pour only up to half of the glass to give enough space for you to swirl the wine and release its aromas. But if we’re talking about the flute for your bubbly, you can fill it up to half an inch from the rim. There’s no need to swirl as this will only dissipate the flavour.

I do hope this post will help you in planning a personalised romantic date. Perhaps, you don’t want to wait for February 14. Once you realise that setting this all up isn’t complicated at all, maybe you can already have it this weekend.

What’s Involved in the Proper Use of Commercial Freezers and Fridges

Image courtesy of Jaako on Flickr

Many of us have been thinking of ways to earn more, and having your own business seems to be the answer for most. And perhaps, one of the most profitable ventures you could dabble in is food-related.

Everybody needs to eat, and as long as you can serve them delectable dishes to eat, then there’s no stopping your business from thriving. But to provide consistently good food and for your food business to flourish, you need not just cooking and business expertise and the right attitude. You also need other things like a well-planned location and even top-quality equipment that are well-maintained.

Freezers and Fridges Mean Fresh Food

Image courtesy of conbon33 on Flickr

Image courtesy of conbon33 on Flickr

A freezer and refrigerator are among the items that you should really invest money and effort in acquiring and maintaining. Good thing that you can now find rental options for commercial kitchen appliances like these, if you don’t think it’s wise to buy just yet. Freezers and fridges will help keep your products stored properly before it reaches your stove or your customers’ plates. And choosing the best ones is the easier part. Maximising their functions and life is another thing.

Here’s one basic fact about these appliances that you need to keep in mind: You’ll be subjecting them to frequent opening and closing of their doors. Each time the door opens, you let heat get inside the compartment. As a result, the compressor is forced to work doubly hard to eliminate the heat. Freezers and refrigerators used in restaurants are opened more frequently than the normal fridge used at home, so obviously, more amount of heat goes in. You, therefore, need one with a stronger compressor that you can only find in commercial grade freezers and refrigerators.

Before Buying Them

Prior to shopping around for these appliances, you need to consider the following so you can decide wisely:

How much space do you need? The size of the commercial freezer and refrigerator should depend on the size of the business you run.

The cost of the appliance as against your overhead expenses. The commercial types of freezers and refrigerators that cost less are most likely to consume more electricity, while an expensive one warrants lower operation cost given that it consumes less electricity. Check the energy-saving capabilities of the appliances you should be looking for when shopping. Try to strike a balance between cost and energy consumption based on foresight. Calculate how much money you can save over a 5-year period if you buy one and compare it to the total cost if you have the other.

Warranty. A warranty will be your protection in case the appliance you bought suddenly stops working properly. If possible, spend a little more money on extended warranty. Doing without one could lead to unrecoverable losses, and that’s the last thing you want for your business.

Maintain Them Properly

Image courtesy of USDAgov on Flickr

Image courtesy of USDAgov on Flickr

If you’re asking how to use your commercial freezer and refrigerator properly, the answer is two words: proper maintenance. As long as you know how to take care of the appliance, then most probably, you know how to use it correctly.

And how can you maintain your appliances well? Aside from routine cleaning, here are three things you should do:

1. Schedule and perform periodic maintenance checks. This is something you could ask the manufacturer of the appliance. You might be required to enroll the unit for regular check-ups. A trained maintenance tech should visit your business regularly to perform routine tests on the unit where he should be able to identify and correct potential problems even before they get out of hand.

2. Always check the door gasket. The gasket ensures that your freezer and refrigerator doors are completely sealed every time you close them. When the gasket is busted, heat would easily slip through it, making the compressor work double-time.

To check if the gasket needs replacing, try to insert a dollar bill between the gasket and door frame, then close the door. If your gasket is working as it should be, you’d have a hard time pulling the bill out. Otherwise, you’d need to call for a gasket replacement.

3. Check the unit’s holding temperature. The quality of the food you serve would depend on whether the ingredients are stored properly. This often involves the right temperature during freezing or refrigeration.

If the temperature isn’t right, food would most likely spoil or get freezer burn. So you need to check the holding temperature several times during business hours to ensure everything’s as it should be. If you’ve checked repeatedly and the temperature still is too low or high, you need to have the appliance repaired immediately.

By doing maintenance tips here, you’d know you’re putting your appliance to good use. Of course, don’t skip reading the user’s manual to see more ideas on how to keep your commercial freezer and refrigerator running effectively.