Casserole/stew

Winter’s Beef Casserole

Don’t just warm your tummy – warm your soul as well! this recipe is a MUST for these winter chills.

  • 600g chuck or gravy beef.
  • 1x onion, sliced.
  • 2x medium carrots, sliced thinly.
  • 2x Tbsp plain flour.
  • 3x cups beef/vegetable stock.
  • 1x tsp Worcestershire sauce.
  • 1x Tbsp soy sauce.
  • 1 Tbsp thyme.
  • 2x bay leaves.
  • 2x tsp garlic.

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Cut beef into cubes/strips.

Season with salt and pepper, add about 2 tablespoons of oil and mix well.

Heat a large fry pan over a medium-high heat. Brown the beef in batches then place in a casserole dish.

Reduce heat in pan, and sauté the onion and carrot in butter. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle in flour and stir until the vegetables are coated.

Gradually pour in stock, stirring well. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to the boil. Pour into a casserole dish, cover then place in oven and cook until the beef is tender. Stir every 40 minutes or so, adding water if needed to keep the ingredients just covered. (Roughly cooking time is 2hrs and 30mins but will depend on different types of ovens and temperatures)

Smart tip: This casserole can be cooked on a stove top or slow cooker.

Stove top method: Place the browned beef and other ingredients in a heavy-based pot. Partially cover, keep the heat low. Simmer until the meat is very tender. Stir occasionally, adding water if needed to keep ingredients just covered.

Slow cooker: Place the browned beef with other ingredients into the slow cooker and place onto low for 6 hours or until the meat is tender. Depending on size and cut this can take up to 8 hours.

 

Toe Kicks

Why toe kicks are a MUST in the kitchen.

This blog is about an aspect in your kitchen you probably didn’t even know existed – the all mighty toe kicks. The toe kick for those who don’t know is a small panel located under your cabinets where the doors usually end, the toe kick covers the space from then to the flooring. It turns out that paying a little attention to this hidden away spot can make a huge difference in the look and feel of your kitchen.

There’s a reason the toe kick exists to begin with, the next time you’re standing in front of your kitchen sink or working at the benchtop, take a look down at your toes, chances are you won’t be able to see your toes because they’re actually positioned underneath the front edge of your cabinets, in the toe kick.

When you stand at your kitchen sink or cook at the bench, chances are your feet are positioned so that your toes are in the toe kick, without this little foot cubby hole you’d either bang your toes into the front of your cabinets, or have to learn over awkwardly to reach things at the back of your benchtop. It’s a helpful little ergonomic detail that’s so common that most people don’t think about it at all. (Bathroom cabinets that go all the way to the floor also have these.)

The toe kick can actually be more than just a practical thing in the kitchen – in most kitchens the toe kick is either painted black or the same color as the cabinets, to make it as invisible as possible. Although, some people like to make a statement out of these toe kicks, there is many different colors you can make these (you can even get a mirrored one! how snazzy is that?) reason being is it can actually be a good, simple way to tie in the color scheme of your cabinetry with the benchtop right up to the handles.

So there you have it, a toe kick is pretty much a tiny compartment for your feet to sit so you have a lot more comfort while working in the kitchen.

 

 

 

 

Mangatapere Beauty- new kitchen Whangarei

Check out this beautiful new kitchen in Mangatapere created for Trevor and Cheryl Barfoote by Next Edition Kitchens.

6 Popular kitchen layouts (with pictures)

Ever noticed how creative you can get with your layout of a kitchen? the most asked question is “What layout would suit me and my house?” well, no more wondering – we have the perfect guide (with pictures) that will make being in the kitchen a breeze with the layout suited to your space.

First we have the U-shaped kitchen – this is perfect if you have a couple of cooks in the house who enjoy cooking together, this layout is designed to create and hold a wide range or space and storage making it easier to have more than just one in the kitchen. This layout best suits the larger rooms the kitchen is located as this layout is quite spaced out. The U-shape is perfect as it offers counters and work spaces on 3 walls and there is still the option of adding an island in the middle. Essentially, the U-shaped kitchen can offer the best of both worlds. The middle of the kitchen is yours to play with –  you can even include an island in the middle, this is ideal for the home owner that likes to not only spent lots of time in the kitchen making meals and baking but also sees it as a communal family room where everyone can get together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secondly, we have the L-shaped kitchen – this is perfect for those smaller units/flats that don’t have as much space but you still want to have as much space and storage as you possibly can, this is mainly ideal for one person cooking per time in a comfortable space. The only difference between this and the U-shaped kitchen is your pretty much losing one bench top and a few cupboards and drawers but being a smaller house with less residents this is perfectly workable. This dead end approach is great for those wanting to cook in privacy but if you don’t want the family shut out and like the idea of kids wandering through to check on dinner, the next option could be for you.

The third is the wonderful Gallery kitchen – This is a GREAT space saver and to be fair, some will argue this has slightly gone off the fashion board in the recent years with people more budging for those U & L shaped kitchen layouts because of the strict shape and closed-in feel doesn’t compliment a open plan living plan. But let me tell you the benefits, firstly, they can provide a two-walled approach to storage and facilities in a small space. Everything that a home cook needs is available on both sides but it is still a great way to save space in kitchen with minimal room to move. Secondly, the long walkway between the two work areas can open up the space on either side, allowing for a constant stream of traffic between the back yard and the dining area and a communal feel.

Number 4 Island kitchen – This design divides large kitchens into efficient, smaller working areas. The Island kitchens are by far the most popular layout because not only do they provide a host of new design options for new builds and renovations but they can actually enhance the layouts mentioned above. An island has many benefits depending on your design taste and style, it can give excellent depth and an opportunity to change this into a L-shaped kitchen but also a new meaning to a gallery kitchen as long as there is enough space to play with. Galleys are typically narrow but in a larger room, an island gives a stopping point in the middle for families to sit at. In other kitchens, like the large U-shaped kitchens, islands can be a great focal point in the middle of a large, dominating kitchen. Some kitchens that are short on space can use them for preparation while others will gain an alternative dining area.

Dark panels in kitchen - Grey

Peninsula kitchen coming in at number 5 – This is pretty much just a U-shape kitchen but without the wall behind, this design is perfect if you are wanting to achieve an island in your layout but just don’t have the space to put it in the middle This is ideal for homes that really want an island to work on or eat but don’t really have the space to build one out in the middle of the room. There are limitations to this approach in terms of its use and accessibility, but it can be a great compromise for enhancing a small, L-shaped layout.

 

 

The comfortable kitchen for one at number 6 we have our last but not least One wall kitchen – again, these are great for those smaller living areas, this layout would work fantastic in a holiday home or even a small flat, the layout has just enough space for everything one person needs – it looks tidy and can be kept that way quite easily – it is great for those on a budget as well as you aren’t really adding much to this design as it’s a nice, simple layout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choices

Kitchen Professional or General Contractor?

This time of year is the time everyone decides the kitchen needs some TLC or a whole new look, finding the best, creative kitchen wizard can become a nightmare if you leave this too long, bookings come in and out the door like crazy and delays occur with the kitchen installation dates and even manufacturing of the project BUT the reason home owners decide to suck it up and work around the talented lass/lad is because of the exceptional knowledge and organizing they take care of instead of you stressing out wondering if you have sorted everything and prepared all the subcontractors etc. also, you generally just end up dealing with the wizard himself opposed to making countless contact to different places here and there to sort everything.

Quality VS. Value:

Sure, we all tend to naturally go for what’s cheaper but if your looking for a quality job that will stand the test of time (and a definite guarantee on this one!) then a professional kitchen designer, manufacturer and installer is 100% the way to go. In many purchasing situations – a great deal is the desired outcome, the same goes for a standard renovation. A ‘too good to be true’ price could result in low-grade products and a hasty installation. A professional kitchen designer can offer you peace of mind that your investment is backed by their guarantee, and even more value in the form of reliability, expert advice and customer service another bonus is a lot of kitchen professionals can offer more customization around your ideas and style.

Reliability:

Most homeowners are more open to spending a little extra if it buys them peace of mind. A general contractor generally can’t offer the same level of reliability as a professional can – and in saying this, it’s not a deliberate situation they are constantly in but more so because they have many other projects that may come to be a priority, or some may be more urgent to complete than others. Some (not all) general contractors may have proof of the proper business licenses and insurances, but that’s usually where the credentials stop. A kitchen professional will have more resources to prove that his/her work is certified and reliable. Read reviews on the business pages, ask around locally to see who people recommend and make sure you won’t get into a catastrophe.

Level of expertise:

From your appointment to your installation, a kitchen specialist can offer you an elevated level of expert advice. For instance, Next Edition Kitchens LTD has a team of kitchen designers that are dedicated to finding the most current trends and helping you design your dream kitchen. Because most of its products are made and manufactured in its on-site facility, every member of Next Edition Kitchens LTD family is equipped to answer any question you may have, as well as offer expert advice regarding your personal wants and needs.

Customer Service:

Now this is probably one of the most important aspects — specialized professionals have the ability to tend to your needs from before your consultation appointment is scheduled, to, well – after your project is completed. Where a general contractor may be over-worked and too busy to work with your busy schedule, a professional kitchen company has employees ready to help. Oftentimes, a professional can schedule your appointment and installation when it’s most convenient for you. If you have questions or concerns, a professional company will always be there to answer your phone calls. Should you have to reach them for any reason after your installation, the same holds true. Whereas, it can be nearly impossible with a contractor. But you can rest assured that a professional will be around—and flexible—after your job is completed.

There are plenty of instances where a general contractor is a viable option, but for kitchen re-modelling specifically, a specialist is the way to go. The kitchen can be an especially demanding room to renovate, and a true professional has the level of expertise and reliability that is in line with those demands. No wonder more homeowners are choosing kitchen specialists for their kitchen re-modelling projects!

 

Dark panels in kitchen - Grey

How to maintain those dark colored panels/benchtops

As gorgeous and elegant as dark colored panels and bench-tops are they can definitely become a challenge when it comes to finger marks, food splatters etc, a lot of people are hesitant to go with these colors as they want to avoid that nightmare as some would call it – but I’m here to tell you that it is not as bad as you think.

Whether it’s a matt, satin, semi-gloss or gloss finish, finger marks and water spills always stand out and can be hard to remove sometimes.

Because of the way the light reflects off a dark surface, the marks are often more obvious than on a lighter colour surface. If the mark is from an oily product, (for example oily fingers from cooking) removing this with a standard household cleaning spray can sometimes be ineffective as it doesn’t break down the oil. The other consideration is the streak marks that can be left behind by the cleaning product itself.

There is so many products out there people will try to upsell to you saying “it works wonders, cleaning will be a breeze” BUT this is not always the case – you’d be amazed to find how easy it is to clean up marks using warm, soapy water (you can even add in a dash of disinfectant to keep it hygienic but don’t use too much!) with a microfibre cloth – most times this will clean the cabinets leaving them nice and shiny with no marks whatsoever but sometimes, it can leave a water marks, the trick to this is actually window cleaner (it’s safe and leaves the clean look you’re going for.) On a laminate door, a mixture of eucalyptus oil and water in a spray works well to break down the grease and won’t leave streak marks.

*Always use a microfiber cloth when wiping your doors as this will avoid fine scratches from appearing (especially important if the door is a gloss finish). The best brand we have come across for this is Norwex as their ultra-fine fibers are incredible gentle yet extremely absorbent. You can find these down at our showroom or even online!

Regardless of the finish you choose, dark cabinets will generally be more work to maintain the cleanliness, however – by sticking to this cleaning guide, I promise you will be at peace with your lovely, clean outcome.

NEKL

Handles VS. No Handles

Are you in the middle of planning your next project and just can’t quite decide on whether handles would be the icing on the cake? Read on for some interesting pros and cons of each and my take on what is best for different styles, hopefully we can help you stop scratching and start the ball rolling.

As we know, Handles are becoming a very head-scratching decision to make now-days as there is so many different design ideas out there and lots of different styles to dash for. Some may not know, but the handle-less style was a reasonably popular choice for homeowners in the 1970s too; and now it’s gained popularity again, particularly over the last few years.

The main reason a lot of renovators decide to go for the push-touch drawers/cabinets with no handles is because of the seamless, elegant and TIDY look it gives off. It also enhances the use of the push-touch feature making it 100x more convenient for opening and closing in a quick, effortless manner. Renovators also love, love, LOVE the look of the flat, smooth surface.

Pros that I have been researching and can confirm is as follows:

  • Timeless style – The no handle look will never out-date, I mean look at the 1970’s statement I made before, it was such a popular choice back then and fast forwarded to now – they still are! It’s a win-win situation.
  • Safety – Have you ever had your children/grandchildren/siblings etc, come over and knock themselves on the handle protruding off your cabinet/drawers or have you ever walked past and its hooked onto a bit of clothing? Well – not anymore, with the push touch option, there is no obstacles in your way.

With pros comes cons, I have carefully researched and gathered some information from out knowledge (which is very little to no complaints):

  • Cost – you may think having no handles may be slightly cheaper because you aren’t adding the additional object to your kitchen, well not to be a buzz kill but depending on the option you choose, they usually cost 20-50 percent more than having handles. Reason being is the magical system the push-touch requires to function does come at a price, but don’t be scared away from the idea as it is still an affordable option and definitely worth investing in.

This isn’t to say that handles have gone completely off the cards because there are some very eye-catching handles out there that compliment the renovators project just perfect, handles are very beneficial in the aspects of having something to hook your fingers on in high places and those corner cabinets etc.

The pros for having handles is definitely the advantages it has for keeping your cleaning to a minimum – as you may already have guessed, having handles aims for having that one dedicated space to grab for when opening/closing the unit whereas, having a handle less, push-touch system it is more likely to get grubby finger marks all over the face of the unit as there is not one dedicated spot to press and open, it is free for all some may say and you can virtually push anywhere for the system to open/close which means, grubby finger marks EVERYWHERE!

  • Cost – As stated above, having handles can be cheaper, not always as some different handles of course come with a different price but there are so many good bargains on some exquisite handles out there just screaming that it’s the icing on the top of your project.
  • Styles – There are many different styles and colors of handles out to literally suit everyone’s style/taste. In my opinion this is a great advantage as they will always be in trend its just the style that will vary but they are easy to replace and again, can be quite the bargain while keeping the illusion of elegance or even quirkiness!

Cons:

  • Trends – this isn’t really a big deal if you aren’t too worried about trends going in and out but for those who love to keep up with the trends then handles may not be complimentary on that aspect with styles continuously changing, if you do happen to love your trends and styles then this method of having handles can be costly with replacing etc but do again keep in mind there are plenty of bargains about! A lot of handle styles tend to stay in trend for awhile – i’m talking years and given the era we live in, they are all pretty similar to what new designs come out in some way.

I hope we have helped minimize the head scratching decision in some ways with detailed information on each option, we know it’s a tough choice to make but we can guarantee that either option, your project will be looking exquisite – if you are still hum-ing and harr-ing go down to your local joinery place, we will take in all aspects like your personal style, what look you’re going for and of course, your budget.

 

 

 

 

Carrot Cake

Never Fail Moist Carrot Cake

Who likes Carrot Cake? what better time to start making this delicious treat for Easter time?

 

Ingredients:

  • 3x Eggs
  • 2x Cups brown sugar
  • 1x Cup oil
  • 3x Cups grated carrot
  • 2 1/4x Cups of high grade flour
  • 1/2x Cup milk (Warmed)
  • 2x tsp Baking soda
  •  1/2x Cup walnuts (if desired)
  • 1/2x Cup Crushed pineapple (Optional)

Preheat oven to 160°C bake. Beat eggs and Brown Sugar together.

Add oil then all other ingredients – mix well.

Pour into a large, well-greased cake tin.

 

Bake for 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Stand in the tin for 20 mins then turn out and cool on a cake rack.

Spread with cream cheese icing when cold.

 

Cream Cheese Icing:

  • 50g Butter- softened
  • 1/2x Cup cream cheese
  • 2x Cups Icing Sugar
  • 1x tsp Vanilla
  • 2-3x Tbsp milk to mix

Put icing on when cake is cool, store in a container in your cupboard to keep moisture.

 

Feel free to customize this recipe to suit your taste, it’s certainly a family favorite that won’t go to waste!

 

 

Utensils - Organised kitchen

How-To Organize Your Kitchen EASILY

Is your kitchen well overdue for some re-organizing? No matter how much room you may have (or may not have) in the kitchen – it is do-able to have a lovely, organised kitchen that won’t give you nightmares.

We are always on the hunt for a magic answer or even a cleaning fairy that would come around each day and have everything clean and organised with the flick of the wand before we get home, if you are sick of searching and dreaming of the day this will come – read ahead and get all the exclusive ideas from the professionals (and tricks and tips that ACTUALLY make life 100% easier when keeping the kitchen in pristine condition!)

Step one – start from scratch by pulling everything out of cupboards and drawers, one-by-one otherwise you’ll get lost in amoungst all the food & cooking utensils (this is the part where you can get the kids involved or if you prefer it by yourself, go for gold.)

After everything is pulled out, wipe down the shelves and drawers – you’ll be surprised how much dust builds up over time.

Start by putting the least used utensils in the bottom drawers and things like canned foods at the top of the cabinet as these seem to last longer and aren’t everyday things we may tend to grab for when we open the pantry make sure you remove things that may not belong in the kitchen (we all have the fruit bowl that’s filled with everything BUT fruit) – then as you go down, try placing all the everyday necessities in the middle shelves as you will find it easier going into the cupboard, grabbing what you need and placing it back especially if its right in front of you (we are all human and find this the fastest and least time-taking method) right at the bottom should be a shelf for things like your potato box or even bigger appliances.

***Be sure to check expiry dates on all food before you place it back in cupboards as you may have something dated from 2001 that you never knew was hiding away in there.***

Step two – Put things in the exact same spot after use, this will help keep the organisation in place and will get you familiar where everything is along with your family catching on as well (there will be no excuse for them to not dry and put away dishes anymore!)

Step three – Keep your purchases (unless its food, of course) to a minimum, if you already have all the needed appliances then really think about future purchases, ask yourself “How many times will this actually get used? Is it going to replace any appliance I already have that may do the similar thing? Where will I store this? Etc.” try avoiding purchases that are only going to be used very rarely – ask  your friends and family as they are usually bound to have one you can use.

Step four – Pinterest organisation DIY ideas, this has been my saviour and has some wonderful ideas for storing many different things in your kitchen which makes it look tidy while keeping it all out of the way.

Step five – Always keep up to date with kitchen renovation ideas, kitchen renovations can be costly but they can also be great for a budget, when you slowly renovate the kitchen bit-by-bit you’ll be saving money and time with making the most of what you have with possible DIY ideas to temporarily add on to your kitchen and these ideas can simply be buying a couple of stick on hooks to place inside your cabinet door to hold numerous kitchen utensils – the benefit of exploring these cheap (yet fantastic, budget friendly ideas) is that you will slowly make these more of a permanent add-on and find what works for you as you could then go to Next Edition Kitchen’s or your local cabinetry place and get a hook rack custom made if the stick on hooks are working well for you.

It’s all trial and error but it’s a very good idea to get into.

With doing DIY ideas, you can get the family involved as well and have some fun while also teaching them important skills and encouraging organisation to be up-kept in the kitchen which will pan into all areas of the house.

So, what are you waiting for? be your own cleaning fairy and be the envy of all your friends and family with the cleanest kitchen ever laid eyes on!

Bath

5-Star Spa Treatment in your own home!

It’s almost the end of February and let’s be real, we could all use some pamper time… Imagine having a 5-star spa experience in the comfort of your own home, good news! No need to imagine with our simple guide on how to transform your bathroom into a spa treatment room with no fuss and your wallets will thank you and us on this one.

 

Begin with clearing the clutter lingering around taking up unnecessary space, nothing invades relaxation like a cluttered-up mess with all sorts of bits and bobs you didn’t even know how it made it’s way into the bathroom in the first place.

Spend a reasonable time making sure all the surfaces are wiped down and the cluttered items put in the correct places.

Fold 3x towels and have a nice light-weight dressing gown (or fluffy, depending on mother nature’s decision on the weather that day!) awaiting you on a clear space in your bathroom.

 

Now that your bathroom is spick and span – lets move on to setting the scene of your very own 5-star spa setting, get some tealight candles (or even scented candles.) scatter them safely around the bathroom where they won’t cause a hazard and light them when ready.

Leave the lighting on low if you can and if you have some incense or room fragrance, give your room a spritz to help set the spa-like scene.

 

Make a playlist of soft, contemporary music – or whichever music relaxes you best or even have a nice book handy.

Start the process by running a nice, warm bath while adding in your favorite bath salts, bubble bath etc. Exfoliate your body with a salt scrub or loofah. Use circular motions towards your heart all over your body to increase circulation and reduce cellulite.

Once you’re all scrubbed make sure to apply a nourishing lotion. Use a towel to pat your skin dry, then seal in the moisture by applying a lotion or body cream, a lavender scented one would be very relaxing! Pour yourself a glass of fresh, ice cold lemon water (or whatever taste of drink you love) and let your troubles melt away.

 

Now that your body is relaxed – the pampering can begin. Start by washing your face with luke warm water and your desired face wash, gently exfoliate your skin with some exfoliator (this step is optional, but it will really treat your skin to a 5-star spa experience.) rinse off with COLD water and now’s the fun part… FACE MASK! Being a previous qualified Beauty Therapist I have undergone studies to suit different skin types but there is one face mask you can make from home to refresh, soothe and smooth and suit ALL SKIN TYPES and as follows:

 

  • Combine 1/2 cup hot—not boiling—water and 1/3 cup oatmeal.
  • After the water and oatmeal have settled for two or three minutes, mix in 2 tablespoons plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons honey, and 1 small egg white.
  • Apply a thin layer of the mask to your face, and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes gently wash off and moisturise.

 

Feel free to treat yourself to other treatments like a manicure, eye mask or hair mask, whatever you need to do to feel pampered. Relax for as long as you wish and enjoy the peace and quiet.