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July 7, 2010 Posted by | Apple, Food & Drink | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sakura (Tanque Verde) Review

Cleanliness of restaurant

For those of you who have never been to Sakura, let me tell you a little something about the way they prepare your food. You have a choice between sitting at a nice table with your family, or sitting around a grill with a cook throwing things at you. Of course we took the second option.

You would think a restaurant that prepared food at your table would be a little messy, but to my surprise, it wasn’t. I even went to the bathroom to try to find something wrong! Besides a crack in the sink, I couldn’t find anything wrong in the cleanliness department. (And I was really trying!)

Quality and speed of service

We called ahead to make a reservation, but we found out that they don’t do reservations, but they do have a “call ahead” program – which we did. When we arrived we got to walk in front of all the other people waiting and sat right at our table. (I am sure this made them very happy.)

We sat at our table for what seemed like a long time before our server came around to get our drink order. I am not sure if she knew the hostess had sat us there or not. (I was getting thirsty without my Diet Coke.)

Unfortunately for me, this is another Pepsi restaurant. (If you have been reading my other review, you will remember that I consume more Diet Coke than most small countries.) So today I had to have Diet Pepsi. I am sure my server appreciated the fact that I had only 6 refills.

Besides the little wait at the start, the service was fine. She was quick with the refills and the check was presented at the proper time.

Quality of food

Let me tell you how it works. Your table places their order and your server gives the information to your chef. Your chef gets your uncooked food all prepared and brings everything right to your table.

After playing a few “egg” tricks (yes, raw egg tricks) he starts cooking up your food.
If you have never seen this before, it can be a lot of fun!

My wife ordered the Teppan Shrimp and I ordered the New York Steak and an appetizer of fried calamari. Before our meal they delivered a type of broth soup which we thought was really good (after we picked out the mushrooms – sorry).

The calamari was good. Even my wife who has been afraid to eat calamari thought it was good! They threw in a couple extra goodies on our appetizer plate: a fried mushroom, fried cauliflower, a fried zuccini, an onion ring and a fried carrot. Yes, that is right, a fried carrot. (I lost my sense of adventure on the carrot.) Everything so far was good.

Our chef was young and a little inexperienced when it came to his show. (I actually watched a different cook part of the time!) But he did give a nice show and cooked our food very well. You get a choice between white rice or fried rice for $2.00 more. The fried rice is worth it! We were very happy with the fried rice.

Somehow our chef ended up preparing an extra steak and we all enjoyed eating more steak than we paid for. But he asked us to not tell anyone so if you are reading this, shhhhhhhh, keep the secret. So my portion was very generous and it tasted wonderful! My wife’s shrimp portion was also generous and she enjoyed her shrimp as much as I did my steak.

They like to give you “freebies” here – like the extra goodies with the calamari, extra steak -everyone got a little steak even those who didn’t order it – and everyone also got a little shrimp – even if you didn’t order it.

Overall Dining Experience

We enjoyed going here. The price was fine – 2 meals, 2 soft drinks and an appetizer for about $60.00. After the check was presented I leaned over and asked my wife if she had her coupon and, to my surprise, her response was, “Sorry, no coupon”. (If you have been following along on other reviews, you will remember my wife almost ALWAYS has a coupon!.) So anyway, besides the slow start everything else ran smoothly and tasted great.

Oh, before I forget, we got a visit from the manager. He just wanted to make sure we had a good experience. Nice touch!

I recommend Sakura for anyone who wants a different type of experience, wants to have fun and wants to enjoy good food.

June 1, 2010 Posted by | Food & Drink | , , , , | 1 Comment

5 Things You Need to Know About Grass-Fed Beef

The organic movement has taken the world by storm. But what’s truly healthy and what’s just hype? The manager of a grass-fed beef farm breaks it down.

BS Top - Maynard Grass Fed Beef

With skeptical, beef-centric films like Food, Inc. and Fast Food Nation encouraging the American consumer to question the source of their meat, how do you know what to ask? Mark Maynard, farm manager of the Greyledge grass-fed beef farm, offers five basic queries that will help clear up a lot.

Why is grass-fed beef better?
Beef cattle that are pasture-raised and grass-fed are a healthier and safer source of meat because they are eating a diet naturally suited to their anatomy. As a result, the herd is content, healthy, and the beef is high in Vitamin E, Omega-3s, and conjugated linoleic acid, which some studies have shown has cancer-fighting properties and could lower cholesterol. What’s more, pasture-raised beef is usually free of hormones and antibiotics.

Is it important for grass-fed beef to be certified organic?
No. Often, small, local farmers do not have the capacity to undergo organic certification. My recommendation is to find a farmer you can trust, try the beef, and make it your go-to for healthy, farm-fresh meats.

Where is the beef coming from?
Did your beef come from 3,000 miles away or even another country like Argentina? There is no way to ensure that the beef you and your family consume is healthy and humanely raised without being able to verify its place of origin. Again, it’s best to find a farmer you know and trust. The best farms and purveyors employ a source verification process, in which the record keeping of livestock includes health records, feed records, and genetic history.

Why is beef sometimes flash frozen and does that affect the taste?
Flash freezing is a process when products are rapidly frozen and then vacuum sealed in air-tight packages. This process enriches all the flavors, juices, vitamins, and minerals and allows the beef to keep perfectly for long periods. The beef remains in this condition until it is thawed, ensuring the freshness and quality from when it was originally frozen.

What is the difference between dry-aged and wet-aged beef?
These are the two techniques used for aging beef and they yield very different flavors and textures. Dry-aged beef tends to be richer, more aromatic, and pungent in flavor, and is generally regarded as a superior-tasting beef. Odds are that you have tasted wet-aged beef, as it dominates the commercial market. It also tends to be less expensive, but is no match to the taste of dry-aged beef.

May 29, 2010 Posted by | Food & Drink | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Some Health Benefits of Chocolate

While we may have been taught since a very young age that all chocolate is bad for you, it’s okay to indulge your sweet tooth once in awhile, for holidays or otherwise. Chocolate is a universal taste among human beings, and some say that nine out of ten people like chocolate – and the tenth is lying.

Chocolate has such a poor reputation from a health standpoint that this may be difficult to believe, but the truth is that we really don’t need to feel guilty about eating it. Chocolate comprised of 70% cocoa is actually a healthy indulgence. However, the relative healthiness of the chocolate you consume will depend on both the quality and the quantity of the chocolate.

Let’s consider the health benefits of chocolate. You probably feel like you get a bit of a rush from eating chocolate. You’re not imagining it – chocolate contains a phyto-nutrient that acts as an endorphin in humans, producing a pleasurable sensation akin to a “runner’s high.”

Chocolate can almost be considered an antidepressant. This could explain why so many people indulge in chocolate when they’re feeling down. Swiss scientists showed that eating 40g of dark chocolate each day lowered the occurrence of stress hormones in the bloodstream, which helps people manage the effects of stress.

Due to its popularity as a food, many studies have been conducted on the health benefits of dark chocolate, and the results are quite positive. One Swedish study found that after a heart attack, those who consumed chocolate at least twice a week tripled their chances of survival over those who didn’t eat any chocolate.

In addition, a Canadian study showed that risk of stroke was decreased in individuals who ate chocolate once a week in relation to those who didn’t.

The benefits of chocolate are imparted by compounds called flavinoids, which are present in the cocoa. These flavinoids act as a potent anti-oxidant in the human body, protecting our DNA from damage from oxidation. This effect means that chocolate could potentially be considered an anti-aging food.

So don’t feel guilty about eating a little chocolate on Easter, or any other day, for that matter. Of course, it’s still best to eat chocolate in moderation; a full bar every day is too much. You’ll also want to find chocolate composed of 70% cocoa or more, and organic chocolate is great if it’s available to you.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Chocolate, Food & Drink | , , , | Leave a comment

Making Lists, Making Chocolate

I don’t know if you are a list-writing person or not. I am. Not dogmatically. But I always have a bit of paper on the go beside my computer, so as ideas surface, or I remember things I need to do, I jot them down.

Having had a distracting few days in other areas, I’ve not managed to be near the computer much. As a result, the list has grown and as I approach the weekend, I am now able to work through much of it.

Until a few of hours ago, my list looked something like this:

Write new story
Ring Marie re Gig
Email the Chronicle
Finish Song
Buy Licorice Tea
Ring Radio Station
Listen to Demo
Collect Wood
Make Chocolate

The licorice tea will have to wait. We live about thirty five kms from the nearest town, which does not sell licorice tea. And about forty five kms from a bigger town, which does. So the licorice tea will not be scribbled out today. My lists always end up looking like a major artwork of doodles by the time I finish with them and start a fresh one.

I’ve made the phone calls and done the emails. All related to the business side of my music. The song to be finished will be a joy to do over the weekend, as will listening to the demo.

Collecting wood is a fun thing, which I will do later, when everything else is done, wandering paddocks collecting fallen wood. We don’t have a fire place inside, unfortunately. (But the bath goes in next week. Woo hoo!). With friends coming over to jam on Sunday, we will have a fire going outside as the warmth of an Autumn day slides into the chill of an Autumn evening. Beautiful. It is actually blowing quite strongly at the moment as I sit out here on the veranda writing. This is certainly in my favour for collecting fallen wood.

My most favourite thing on the list though is Make Chocolate. I discovered this great recipe in a vegetarian magazine a little while back and have now made about four batches of it. It is such a hit that I must share it here. It is thanks to Vicki Hare, who as it turns out is also a musician (vicki.com.au). Thank you Vicki, very much. This chocolate, I must say, goes incredibly well with a beautiful cup of soy chai latte. This is speaking from a rapidly experienced woman in this field.

Vicki’s Chocolate Recipe

1 cup cacao powder
3/4 cup raw cashews
1 tbspn coconut butter
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tspn vanilla

Blitz it all in a food processor until thick. Press into a tin, mould or shape into whatever you like. Store in the freezer.

Besides the richness and deliciousness of this chocolate, it is also totally animal free. No baby calves were produced then killed, just to keep a cow milking for human consumption. Nope, it is sugar free, animal free, guilt free and totally scrumptious. I ran out of agave nectar during my second round of it, so used maple syrup instead. Agave nectar is a natural plant syrup, low in calories and great for a number of different recipes. It was equally delicious with the maple syrup, though probably a little bit richer, and it has already been rich enough.

I am also slightly unable to stick to any recipe exactly, something about the artist in me that needs to experiment I think, so the consistency of my chocolate didn’t allow for as much moulding as I had hoped on one very creative, ambitious day. I ended up with a container full of blobs, but they tasted fantastic! I also had no coconut butter (coconut oil) in my pantry at the time of the original recipe discovery and, living so far from town, had to compromise. So I raided my bathroom cupboard for some coconut oil that I had from an Indian supermarket for my hair. And it worked just fine! I am pleased to say though, that I now have some top quality, organic coconut oil in my pantry (which I may also end up using on my hair at some stage).

So if you are writing a list today, or adding to an existing one, please do yourself a huge favour and add Make Chocolate to this list. Your taste buds will thank you, the animal kingdom will thank you, and your friends and family will thank you. But most of all, you will thank you. Bon appetite friends.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Chocolate, Food & Drink | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why you need to switch to vegetarian diet?

There are lot of misconceptions that are concerned with the two dietary forms. Those who are non-vegetarian think that they could not receive the desired amount of nutrients and power from the Vegan food. Moreover, the Vegetarians think that their body is going to be harmed with the consumption of non-veg food. Actually, they are right to some extent. The answer to these questions simply lies with the ten percent law that we all might have studied in our junior classes.
Ten percent law states that
“Every organism transfers ten percent of the total energy to the next level”

This means a person who is consuming Vegan food is receiving ten percent of the total energy with the plant. On the other hand a non vegan, who is eating meat say goat, cow or any other animal is receiving the ten percent of the total energy. The point here is that the animal itself has received only ten percent energy from the plant and that was further reduced to ten percent. Higher you move in the food chain the energy is going to be reduced by ten percent at each level.

This was the one reason of being Vegan. There are several others as well. Consumption of meat increases the load over the body’s digestive system that has to digest harder tissues of the meat. More consumption of meat increases the level of fats in your body that results in to high cholesterol level and obesity. This would result in to other health related issues. Moreover, when you are consuming Vegan food you will also avoid a number of heart diseases.

When you are consuming Vegan food you will be saving a lot many animals from being slaughtered and thus would be contributing a bit for the betterment of our environment. Consumption of meat brings with it some toxins. When you have switched over to the Vegetarian food, you will be deducting these toxins and would be feeling healthier than before. And the non-vegan food items are more expensive than the Vegan stuff. Indeed this would save you a few bucks each day.

Vegan food is marked for longer life span. When you have turned yourself Vegetarian you would be living longer and healthier than the meat eaters. The variety that comes with the vegan food is simply unmatched. So if you are a vegan you can enjoy a greater variety and nutritious variety of food than a typical non vegan.

Therefore, if you are vegan you will be enjoying longer and healthier life span and will remain at an arms length from the diseases. You would also be contributing to the environment by stopping the animal slaughter. The energy that you would gain will be practically and scientifically more than that of a meat eater. To know more about the vegan habit benefits you can download our vegetarian secrets e-book that is available for free download. Form it you can have a detailed review of Vegan diet benefits.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Food & Drink, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Coffee

You’ve discovered and fallen in love with your Keurig Single Serve Home Coffee Brewer. You are brewing your own customized cups of your favorite coffee and teas. You love the simplicity of your brewer and the ease of use of the k cup coffees . Pero is made up of barley, chicory, and rye. It is an instant beverage and can be made by placing a heaping teaspoon with a cup of hot water. You can add milk and sugar if you prefer. As a coffee substitute it isn’t bad flavor wise but it doesn’t quite have the body of coffee. While Australians are great lovers of the cafe experience, there seems to be a huge following all over the world in various forms. All of them usually have a coffee element involved and undoubtedly attract a wide range of people through their doors every day.

You must keep in mind that it is always better to spend more once rather than spending a little from time to time. This way you will not only save a lot of money but you will also save yourself from a lot of trouble of finding the right coffee maker as well. If you are running an office it is best that you buy your own espresso machine for your office so that your employees would not have to take half an hour break from work to go out and buy an espresso. Therefore, having an espresso machine and another coffee maker than can make several kinds of coffees A friend of mine recently introduced me to Capresso Coffee Makers. And I tell you, I was floored. I am not easily impressed by big name brands, but this is definitely a keeper.It uses state-of-the-art technology to brew the beans at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Looking for some free coffee cake recipes to start your day? If yes, I would like to introduce you my 2 new low sugar coffee recipes for you. These recipes are specially for those who likes coffee and mixed with espresso. I think they are perfect match where it totally bring out the coffee taste that it will definitely kick off your day The cafetiere produces a rich full bodied cup in comparison to the filter method. With a cafetiere the grounds are steeped in hot water (like brewing tea) and this extracts more compounds from the coffee. A coffee travel mug is different from a normal coffee mug in a few ways. A normal coffee mug could be made of glass, plastic or ceramic.It does not come with a lid. It is not designed with travel or carrying around in mind.

The less popular, but no simple delicious macchiato sits somewhere between the espresso and cappuccino and is an espresso with a small amount of milk added. The macchiato takes its name from the Italian for marked as the espresso is marked with milk .The Senseo Machine produces several different models to choose from. If you prefer one or more cup at any given time there is a model to fit your needs. The various sizes range between three ounces up to thirty two ounces, using a flexible spout.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Coffee | | Leave a comment

Select a Princess Cut Diamond for Your Wedding

One of the foremost standard stones to place in a wedding ring or maybe the foremost common stone is the diamond. Wedding rings return in so several designs but what most of the people who recognize their jewelry would want to have a princess cut diamond on top of their ring when getting married to be ready to create their wedding ceremony even brighter. It’s their sq. shape that makes them ideal to be set into a marriage ring apart from the glint that they give off.

Princess cuts have been around for so several years and even currently they’re still one among the most preferred cut of diamonds to be used for engagement rings and wedding rings. The sort of cut that’s performed in the diamond makes the diamond look even higher and it could be a sensible strategy to significantly bring down the cost of the rings with this sort of cut without sacrificing its looks.

These diamonds cut during this manner can use for wedding rings worn either by the bride or the groom or both. However, different styles are usually used for a wedding ring of the bride and the groom. For the bride, it will have as few or as several diamond cuts as you would like or relying on your budget. It does not should be bulky however bridal diamond rings would undoubtedly look absolutely fabulous with a lot of princess diamonds running around the ring. It may additionally look equally awesome with some strategically placed princess cuts along the top.

For the groom’s wedding ring, the princess cuts will be set across the finger, or maybe in lines running down the whole ring for a terribly unique look. What is necessary to notice is that it should be a touch less complicated than the brides since you are doing not wish to outshine the bride along with your diamond ring on your wedding day. Except for that a ring that’s too flashy would not look too smart on a person regarding to pledge his love to his partner.

There also are setting designs you want to contemplate when buying diamond rings for your wedding. Take note that the princess cuts can look so gorgeous with bezel settings and channel settings. An excellent idea to make your diamond look larger is to surround it with a white gold or a platinum setting. Alternative setting types embody prong and bar setting which are used for the purpose of providing an entirely unique looking wedding ring.

The diamond rings with princess cuts can positively add sparkle to any couples’ wedding. They will absolutely get pleasure from searching for it especially when it gets right down to choosing the designs and the settings and at last carrying them.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Catering, Food & Drink | , , , , | 1 Comment

Some Important Tips For Sugar – free Recipe

There are so many good reasons to reduce the amount of sugar in the foods that we eat. Processed sugar, especially in the amounts that we eat it here in the United States, is a major contributor to obesity, and provides very little substantive nutrition for the number of calories that it delivers. While it is easy to reduce sugar in some aspects of your diet, there are some sticking points. If you love to bake, for instance, you’ll find that just cutting out the sugar in many recipes will result in a failed recipe. In many recipes, sugar is more than just a sweetener. It provides texture, contributes to browning and may serve to help other chemical processes happen.

That does not mean you have to give up on baking if you want to cut out sugar. There are a number of tips that can help you reduce sugar in your favorite cakes, cookies and other sweet baked goods and still enjoy them. These tips are helpful for cooking with sweeteners such as Splenda Granular.

Amount
In some recipes, sugar is important for the structure and texture. This is especially true in candies and confections like nougat, and in frostings and sweets. For best results, you really can’t replace the entire amount of sugar with a sugar substitute. You can generally replace about 25% of the sugar called for in the recipe. If you must cook completely sugar free, then try recipes that use other natural sweeteners for flavor and sweetness.

Volume/Height
If your cakes, breads and muffins don’t rise as high when using a granulated sugar substitute, try adding ½ cup of nonfat dry milk powder and half a teaspoon of baking soda for every cup of sweetener that you use.

Bake your cakes and muffins in smaller pans. Instead of 9 inch round cake pans, use 8 inch pans with two inch high sides.

Texture
Cookies and cookie bars often need brown sugar for their texture. If you want to keep that chewy-crunchy bite, you’ll probably need to keep the brown sugar, and only replace the white sugar with a sweetener.

Experiment with your favorite recipes. You can get excellent results by replacing the sugar and much of the fat with applesauce or fruit purees. The best choice for fruit purees? All natural baby food, for more details visit to http://www.chicken-wing-cookbook.com with no sugar, salt or preservatives added. Bananas, peaches, prunes, carrots and sweet potatoes are all great choices for dense cakes, cookie bars and muffins.

Cookies made with artificial sweeteners often don’t spread well when they bake. To help them bake better, use a fork sprayed with cooking spray to flatten each cookie slightly before placing them into the oven.

Jams and jellies often rely on sugar to help activate pectin in recipes. You may need to use some extra fruit pectin to help your fruits set up properly if you are using an artificial sweetener, or going au natural.

If your sugar free baked goods are coming out a bit too dry, for more details visit to http://www.chef-123.com try adding a bit of thinly sliced or grated zucchini to the recipe. The flavor is neutral, but it will add moisture to your breads, muffins and cakes.

Pick the Right Sweetener
Some sweeteners react badly to heat. Aspartame, for instance, loses most of its sweetness during baking, so sweeteners that use aspartame should be confined to recipes where you can add the sugar at the end of the cooking – puddings, frostings and the like.

Flavor
Use flavor enhancers to emphasize sweetness in recipes. For instance, an extra teaspoon of vanilla per cup of sugar substitute will bring out the sweetness. Hone or molasses in quick breads and muffins will add a bit of a flavor boost. Other possibilities for enhancing flavors include lemon and orange zest, almond flavoring, and butter flavoring.

Appearance
Sugar free baked goods often look pasty and uncooked because sugar caramelizes during baking to give everything a golden brown color. You can simulate the browning by spraying the surface of the batter or dough with a bit of cooking spray before putting it in the oven.

Other ways to simulate browning include adding cinnamon or nutmeg to the batter.

Most granular sweeteners do not appear to get as creamy and smooth, when mixed with butter, margarine and shortening and it may even separate when you add eggs. It won’t affect the final product; just continue on with the recipe.

Cooking with Yeast
Sugar substitutes won’t activate yeast, so if you’re making yeast breads with a sugar substitute, you’ll need to retain at least two teaspoons of sugar in the recipe, or replace the sugar with another natural sweetener like molasses or honey.

Adjust Bake Times
Baked goods cooked with granulated sweeteners may bake more quickly than the recipe dictates. Check cakes 7-10 minutes before the recipe’s bake time, and brownies, quick breads and cookies 3-5 minutes before the recipe says it will be done. Remember that sugar free recipes may not brown during baking and rely on other indicators.

May 16, 2010 Posted by | Beer, Food & Drink | , , , | Leave a comment