Best Italian Coffee Machine for Home

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I started my search for an espresso machine after I moved out. I had started having Starbucks a little too often for my wallet to handle, and I figured I would like to have coffee to wake up in the morning. I started researching Italian coffee machines for home use for 3 weeks straight, several hours a day. I was trying to find one that was going to last me a long time. 

Styles of espresso machines.

  • Automatic
  • Semi-automatic
  • Super-automatic

I wanted one that I could still steam the milk myself, and do the dosing/tamping myself (semi-automatic). I didn’t want to just push a button and have the coffee made for me (automatic).

How to learn how to make a latte at home

Here are a few videos to help you learn how to make a latte at home. Learn how to grind, tamp and steam milk.

I came across one machine that was a semi-automatic and it was more of a professional grade machine. It took some time for you to get the hang of it, but once you did could achieve quality coffee for years to come

I wanted an espresso machine that was going to last me awhile. I didn’t want to just buy the cheap one and throw it out in a year or two. 

The best Italian coffee machine for home use is the Rancilio Silvia.

It is only manufactured in Italy. They test every machine to make sure it’s working perfectly before they send them out. The compartments are made so that any part can be replaced or fixed if needed. They want you to have this machine for a long time, it’s built to last. 

I wanted a machine that I was going to have little maintenance to do on it. I’m not one for cleaning every little thing all of the time, so this was going to have to be something I could handle but not interfere with my busy life.

After thoroughly researching the Rancilio Silvia, I discovered there was only 2 maintenance procedures that needed to be done on a regular basis:

  1. Backflushing (recommended 1 x week) 
  2. Changing the rubber gasket/cleaning screen (1x year)

When the coffee starts tasting not as good as it usually does, you should clean the screen. This will give you the aromatic flavour from your italian coffee maker that you love!

I purchased my own Rancilio Silvia in November 2012 and I absolutely love it. I had never owned a coffee maker before this so it was a steep learning curve. Watching videos and practicing daily made me be able to improve my skills and pull delicious crema for my morning coffee.

pulling espresso shot

I’m so glad I put in the time and effort to learn this machine because looking back, I never knew I was going to have this machine for years to come. 

I visited my aunt at her house 6 months after purchasing my espresso maker and I noticed that she had the exact same machine and grinder I did!! (Rocky grinder)

I had no idea she had the same one! She told me how her brother had owned the same machine as her for longer than her. My aunt at the time had already owned her Rancilio Silvia for 10 years. She still owns it today and loves it!

One thing that isn’t the greatest is that the drip tray is very short. You have to drain the tray every few days or it overflows. I try to do it every time I use the machine so I don’t have it overflow on me. I’ve had a huge mess to clean up when I’ve forgotten about it! 

One of my favourite desserts to make with my espresso machine is affogato.

homemade affogato
Homemade Affogato

Affogato is made with a couple scoops of ice cream, freshly brewed espresso and white chocolate shavings on top. It’s to die for!! 

Another dessert I like to make with my espresso machine is Espresso Ice Cream. It’s decadent and rich with flavor!

vegan espresso ice cream

I also love making iced coffee with my espresso machine. I typically add 4 pumps vanilla, 2 shots of espresso, ~6 ice cubes, and 1 cup of milk. Throw it all in a blender and enjoy your freshly made iced coffee! For an extra treat, put 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream or birthday cake ice cream for more of a creamy flavour. Yum!

If you’re looking for a new skill to learn and a coffee machine that will last you a long time, the best Italian coffee machine for home use is the Rancilio Silvia by far! You will love learning how to make coffee and maybe one day you’ll be able to create beautiful latte art with your milk steaming skills. I have not mastered this at all…. It’s been almost 8 years so maybe I’ll get there one day! 

The Best Cutting Board with Containers

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My husband loves to prep his meals before he begins cooking anything. He makes a point of taking out all the bowls and using every single one of them for vegetables, sauces, etc. to make cooking not as overwhelming. 

I tried to get him to be a one pan kind of cook but to no avail… I’m more of a wing-it kind of cook and he’s the organized, methodical chef in the house.

I ended up searching around for a cutting board with containers that he could put all of his prepared vegetables in. I knew that this was one thing he needed to keep cooking as easy as possible. 

I managed to find one particular cutting board with containers that was:

  • Ecofriendly – made of bamboo
  • Odor and water-resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Soaked with mineral oil – keeps water out of the bamboo making it durable

It also came with 4 trays that are dishwasher safe. The best part of all is the trays come with bamboo lids. So when he’s prepping meals the day before he can put the cut vegetables in the fridge overnight and then be ready to cook after work the next day.

I find that now the cutting board containers save us from using a ton of bowls and running the dishwasher all the time. It also saves us some countertop space so we have more area to work in. 

The cutting board we ended up going one was this large bamboo cutting board with trays.

Since the cutting board has a groove near the edges it catches the juices when we chop up vegetables and fruit, it keeps the counter much cleaner than before. 

When we’re finished with our bamboo cutting board we wipe it down with a cloth, towel dry, and hand wash the containers. This way, we’ll get the most use out of it. 

I couldn’t be happier with our new cutting board. It makes meal prep and cooking much cleaner and with less clutter on the counters. I know we’ll have this cutting board for years to come.

Best Candy Thermometer

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The best quality candy thermometer is the OXO Good Grips Glass Candy Thermometer.

I started making caramel for an Almond Roca recipe years ago. But, it never quite came out how I wanted it to. It was delicious, but it was just too soft. The consistency wasn’t quite right. 

This year, I decided I was going to try out using my new candy thermometer for my caramel sauce to make my almond roca recipe. Maybe they would actually turn out!

best candy thermometer

I asked my husband to purchase the best candy thermometer for caramel for me.

He got me the OXO Good Grips Glass Candy Thermometer.

When I went to use it, I realized that the bulb didn’t go all the way to the bottom of the pot. But of course, you don’t actually want the bulb to be touching the bottom of the pan. This can cause the bulb to shatter.

So the OXO thermometer he got me, sits a few centimeters above the pot using the adjustable clip. 

When I was making my caramel sauce the bulb was above the level of liquid in the sauce pan so I wasn’t sure how it was going to work.

I started mixing my ingredients, and then I realized that I could just stir the pot and push the caramel sauce over the bulb so I could get an accurate measurement of the temperature.

Therefore, even though it’s large, it’s the best candy thermometer for small batches. 

When I was done making my caramel sauce I watched the Mercury come to an even 300 degrees Farenheight and I poured the caramel sauce into the baking pan. I added the chopped up almonds to it, and then I spread the melted chocolate over the caramel and sprinkled the rest of the chopped almonds to the topping and let it cool. 

Finally, I had made the most incredible Almond Roca. I had no idea that I really needed a candy thermometer to make the Almond Roca that I’ve been dreaming about for years. I always purchased my almond roca at local Christmas markets because it’s my absolute favourite!! Now, I can officially make as much as I want to at home!

I’m an avid baker, and I have tried making macarons, but they never turned out the way I had seen them in pastry shops.

When I took a class making macarons in Vancouver they showed me that when making the sugar sauce for the Italian meringue, it needs to be an even 115 degree Celsius. 

I decided to try out the candy thermometer again. I always had issues making macarons in the past, but I was using the French style recipe. By using the Italian style recipe, the meringue is much more stable so it’s easier to get them to turn out how you like. 

I started making the sugar sauce and I watched the Mercury climb up to an even 115 degrees Celsius. I poured the sugar sauce down the side of the metal mixing bowl with my egg whites. I folded the meringue into the almond mixture and finished off making my macarons, patiently waiting to see how they would turn out. I wondered if this was really going to make the difference between them actually turning out. I put them in the oven and baked them for 12 minutes. 

oxo candy thermometer

I pulled them out of the oven when they were finished, and there it was, my first batch of perfect macarons. I was so proud. I was so grateful to have my new candy thermometer. 

This candy thermometer has been so easy to use, it handles high temperatures up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

It has stages on the thermometer of hard-crack, giving you an idea of how hard you want your candy to be.

I prefer this candy thermometer over a digital one because there is no battery to change, no risk of the display becoming black at high temperatures, and I find it just as easy to read the temperature.

When we were reading up about candy thermometers I thought for sure a digital thermometer would be the easiest. 

I started reading up on the CDN digital candy thermometer 

You can easily program it to an exact degree. It will alarm at specific points during the key temperature stages when making candy.   

It’s approximately 8 1/4″ tall, much smaller than the OXO Candy Thermometer.

However, most people who have used this thermometer find that it doesn’t last very long. Some people have said that it only lasted them 3-30 uses, and then it just stops working. The screen will go black when it’s used at high temperatures. The clip for the gauge can break off and then you have to hold the thermometer by hand to take the temperature of your candy.

It doesn’t seem like digital thermometers have come very far in terms of longevity, or durability.

The tried and true older style thermometers are a better bet for your candy making needs long term. They are easy to clean, simple to use, and give accurate readings.

The OXO Good Grips Glass Candy Thermometer is the best quality candy thermometer for your baking needs.

Bread Maker Pizza Pretzels Recipe

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Bread machines can do much more than just bake loaves of bread.

You can use you bread machine to make pretzel bread dough, and then top your pretzels how you like them.

If you’re making regular pretzels, give them an egg wash with a bit of salt before baking them.

For our bread machine pretzel bread we’ll be making pizza pretzels.

Pizza pretzels are topped with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese. Yum! You can also add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to the top of them as well if desired.

The key to making a delicious pizza pretzel is making sure to completely cover the pretzel in pizza sauce.

Cover the pizza pretzel right until the very edges of the pretzel, even let some of the sauce seep on to the parchment paper lined pan.

The pizza sauce helps retain the moisture of the pretzel, ensuring they are tasty, and not dry.

Bread maker pizza pretzels

Bread Maker Pizza Pretzels Recipe

How to use your bread maker to make pizza pretzel dough. Bake your pizza pretzels in the oven with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese.
Prep Time30 mins
Active Time15 mins
Bread Maker Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Snack
Keyword: pretzel
Yield: 8 Pretzels

Equipment

  • bread maker
  • Oven

Materials

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 7/8 cup water

Topping

  • 1/3 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese grated

Instructions

  • Pour water into bread pan.
  • Place flour into bread pan covering all the water.
  • Add salt and sugar to bread pan.
  • Make a well in the center of the flour and put yeast into the well.
  • Select dough setting on bread machine.
  • Once dough is finished, preheat oven to 450˚F.
  • Separate dough into 8 even pieces.
  • Roll each dough into a long rope shape ~6” long.
  • Twist each dough into a knot shape. Place knots onto a baking sheet.
  • Brush each knot with pizza sauce. Cover the entire knot in pizza sauce, bringing the sauce right down to the bottom of each knot. If you don’t fully cover the knot this will result in a dry pizza pretzel.
  • Sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese onto each knot.
  • Bake at 450˚F for 12 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
bread maker pizza pretzels recipe

Blanco Silgranit Sink Review

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Blanco Silgranit sinks are known for being sleek, stylish, and classy. Your kitchen sink is going to be one of the drawing points in your new kitchen.

You want to be sure you’re picking our a quality sink that is going to last you for years to come.

So how do they measure up?

The Blanco Silgranit sink has a non-porous surface which is anti-bacterial. Food will not be absorbed into the material and begin to smell. You can leave dishes to sit in the sink safely and do them at your leisure without worrying about if you’re damaging your sink.

The surface of the sink prevents pots and pans from clanging. You can be assured that this sink won’t be too loud from dropping things in the sink. 

Do Blanco sinks chip

  • Blanco sinks are durable and can withstand having sharp objects dropped in them. They resist chipping, but it can happen over time.

Do Blanco Silgranit sinks stain

  • The Blanco Silgranit sink is resistant to stains.

Do Blanco sinks scratch

  • The Blanco Silgranit sink is resistant to scratches.
silgranit-sink

Blanco Silgranit Sink Colors

Blanco offers a diverse array of colors for granite sinks when compared to other top sink brands.

When we were renovating our kitchen we went through a lot of research and took the time to figure out which brands are the most durable, and which ones are going to last us a long time. 

Our cabinets and counter-tops gave our kitchen a modern look to it. There’s a luxurious feel to it when you walk in the room. The sink we selected had to match this. Therefore, we wanted to go with a higher quality sink.

silgranit-sink-with-white-quartz

When we met with our designer she recommended a Blanco Silgranit sink.

One thing I noticed when I came across in my research was that some sinks can crack when high temperature foods are poured into the sink like pouring hot water after making pasta.

The Blanco Silgranit sink is heat resistant up to 536° F.

blanco silgranit sink

After visiting a few different stores and feeling the quality of each granite sink I could see that Blanco was the best choice for us.

It took me by surprise how beautiful and modern the sink looked in person.

Types of Blanco Silgranit Sinks

Blanco has a huge selection of different types of sinks:

  • farmhouse
  • sinks with drainboards built in
  • cascading divide in the sink
  • long sinks for your custom kitchen needs
  • laundry room sinks
  • low divide sinks
  • round sinks
  • smaller sinks for a petite kitchen
  • double bowl sinks
  • bar sinks

We decided on the Blanco Silgranit single bowl kitchen sink in Anthracite.

I love the look of the single bowl sinks that are undermounted. The sink and counter-top have clean lines which looks more aesthetically pleasing on the eye. Not only that, I can clean the counter and push all the food scraps into the sink when cleaning up after a meal making it easy to clean the counter. 

How deep is the Blanco Silgranit sink?

  • Bowl depth: 8 5⁄8”

Since the bowl is so much deeper than I was used to, I didn’t realize how many dishes I was going to be able to soak in the sink. 

I can soak some dishes while I’m washing other ones at the same time! This makes clean up much quicker than I anticipated.  

We haven’t had a dishwasher in about 5 weeks so this was a game-changer for me!! 

Another benefit to having such a deep sink…. You can place a few dirty dishes in the sink to be cleaned later and you don’t see them. I can be at my stove cooking away and I don’t see any dishes in my sink, making me feel more calm and relaxed since they are out of sight and out of mind. 

One of my favourite things to do in my spare time is making baked goods. I decided to try my hand at making macarons after taking a class locally to see how I would do at making them. 

After I was done making macarons about 4 hours later I was cleaning the baking pan and I put it right into the sink. What shocked me is the whole pan fit into the sink and I still had room for other dishes as well. I was able to clean the pan and rinse it off so easily that it seems like doing dishes takes a lot less time for me now.  

I never thought that getting a new sink would allow me to do dishes in less time but here we are. 

When I drained the sink for the first time I noticed was that it drains the sink completely dry. There isn’t a pool of water waiting at the bottom of the sink. It self cleans by draining itself dry so you can leave the sink perfectly clean when you’re finished with it. 

With having new pipe under our sink, it can be drained in about 8 seconds depending on how deep you fill it.

blanco-silgranit-sink

When you do your kitchen renovation you want everything to be perfect, you want everything to go well, and you want to know that you made the right choice. 

One thing I know for sure, is I know I made the right choice picking the Blanco Silgranit sink. It fits so well into our modern kitchen and I can’t imagine picking another one. 

It’s just perfect for our life.