Find the Perfect Ice Type for You

Whether you’re looking for the perfect companion for your cocktails, a new best friend for your blender or just something to chew on, the type of ice you use can make all the difference. From nugget ice to gourmet, each type has its own benefits and uses. When choosing an ice maker, be sure you take into account what you’re looking for in an ice commitment. To make things a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of the most common ice types, their ideal uses, and our ice maker recommendations for each.

sonic iceNugget

Commonly referred to as “Sonic Ice”, this ice is well known for its soft and chewable texture and its ability to retain the flavor of any beverage it’s mixed with. Nugget ice is great for any foodservice establishment because it cools drinks rapidly and for a longer period of time without foaming or sticking together. This makes it the perfect choice for all beverage dispensers as well as those who love to chew ice. It is sure to enhance the enjoyment of any and all fountain drinks. Our favorite nugget ice maker is the Ice-O-Matic 85 lb. Nugget Ice Machine.

Ideal for: Carbonated Beverages • Blended Cocktails • Salad Bars • Produce Displays • Therapeutic Uses – Health Care

Flakers

Similar to the ice found in snow cones, flake ice is most commonly used in food and beverage displays. Flake ice is ideal for the presentation and preservation of seafood, produce and other perishable food items. It extends the food’s shelf life and appearance by maintaining hydration for longer and more consistently, which makes for a fresh display that will help increase sales. Flake ice is also perfect for use in bakeries, perishable food transport and various healthcare applications. For perfectly flaky ice, try the Great Northern Ice Cube Shaver.

Ideal for: Produce, Seafood, Meat Displays • Blended Cocktails • Salad Bars • Therapeutic Uses – Health Care

Bullet Ice

Bullet ice, perhaps the most versatile ice available, is round and hollow in the middle. This is the type of ice typically found in portable ice makers and can be used for everyday ice needs,bullet ice such as cocktails or iced tea. For bullet ice in an attractive countertop machine, try the award-winning EdgeStar Portable Stainless Steel Ice Maker.

Cubers

Cube ice, the most common and recognizable ice form, is available in two sizes, allowing you to choose the size that best fits your customers’ needs. Cube ice is perfect ice for any occasion and compliments all of your favorite beverages by both cooling your drink and preserving its flavors. This style of ice is most popular in restaurants, bars and convenience stores. Our best-selling cube ice maker is the EdgeStar Undercounter Clear Ice Maker.

Ideal for: Mixed drinks • Carbonated Beverages • Ice Dispensing • Ice Displays • Ice Retailing • Banquet Services

  • Full Cube ice cubes melt slowly and cool beverages quickly, making them ideal for usage in beverages and food services. These are also ideal for large-volume applications like bagging and bulk cooling.
  • Half Cube ice is half the size of a traditional full cube and is shaped like a pat of butter. Their easy-to-handle size makes them perfect for blending drinks with a smooth finish. Because of its size it dispenses very easily, making it a perfect choice for self-service dispensing machines, as well.
full size ice cube

Full Ice Cube

half cube ice

Half Ice Cube

 

half-moon ice

Crescent Ice
Crescent Ice is shaped like a half-moon and moves freely in any liquid without packing together. Its unique shape allows for excellent displacement and allows liquid to flow over it more easily, so there’s no messy splashing and less waste. For a fabulous crescent ice maker, we recommend the EdgeStar Built-In Ice Maker in stainless steel & black

gourmet iceGourmet Ice

Uniquely shaped, crystal clear, slow melting and odorless, gourmet ice won’t dilute the flavor of drinks. Gourmet Ice is known for its high quality and is comprised entirely of water. Gourmet Ice adds an elegant touch to beverages and ensures your cocktails won’t be tainted by melted ice. Gourmet ice is ideal for enjoying your favorite whiskey or concocting the perfect old fashioned. The Scotsman Gourmet Ice Machine is one of the most attractive gourmet ice makers on the market.

Ideal for: Bar Use • Upscale Restaurants • Waitress Stations • Banquet Service

 

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What is a Halogen Oven?

Morningware Infrared Halogen Oven

I think everyone who knows me, knows that I am not a cook. I don’t enjoy cooking and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m terrible at it.

When I saw this halogen oven from Morningware at the Housewares Show a few years ago, I was intrigued mostly because I had never seen anything that looked like it before. When we stopped at the booth to learn about this product, I knew it was something we had to add to our website. I also knew it was something I had to have for myself.

The convenience of this oven is amazing! It cooks 50% faster than traditional ovens and can heat up to 400 degrees without pre-heating. It uses convection, conduction, halogen and infrared technology to cook. You don’t even have to defrost your meat, you can put it in frozen and it will cook in about 30 minutes!

The Morningware oven also comes with a cooking chart so you’ll never have to guess how long your different meats and vegetables need to be in the oven. It’s so fast and easy that even I can cook using this!

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Immersion Blender Recipe: Garlic Mashed Fauxtatoes

Immersion Blenders

Immersion blenders are a product that I have recently fallen in love with. They just take the hassle out of blending. In a previous life, I would often burn myself while I was trying to transfer whatever hot mixture I was cooking up into the blender while making soups. And it never failed that I would splatter ingredients all over my kitchen and my shirt while I was trying to use a hand mixer to whip up some mashed potatoes. Then, one glorious day, I came across an immersion blender (also known as a stick mixer) and I have not looked back since.

Now, when I am cooking soups or whipping up mashed potatoes, I just get out my immersion blender and stick it right in the pot that I have been cooking the ingredients in, flip the switch and that’s it. It makes for less mess which means less clean up and less time.

The latest thing I have been whipping up with my immersion blender is No Potato Garlic Mashed “Fauxtatoes.”

No Potato Garlic Mashed “Fauxtatoes”

Ingredients

1 Head of cauliflower
2-3 Tablespoons of sour cream
3-4 Laughing cow cheese wedges
3-4 Garlic cloves, minced
2 Teaspoons coarse ground pepper
Salt to taste

Directions

1. Steam the cauliflower and drain water from the pan.
2. Add all other ingredients to pan with cauliflower.
3. Take an immersion blender and blend until desired consistency. (I enjoy my “fauxtatoes” smooth, so I blend until there are no chunks left.)
4. Enjoy!

What recipes do you make with an immersion blender?

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Who Says There is No Room for a Kitchen?

tiny kitchen

Are you living in a space that doesn’t come equipped with a kitchen but you would spend a lot less money if you could just cook from home?  Are you converting a portion of your home into an apartment or other living area but just don’t know how to equip the space with a kitchen without spending an arm and a leg?

In this day and age people have all different kinds of living arrangements that don’t necessarily cater to the typical idea of a kitchen; however, if you equip your space with the following items, you will be cooking in no time.

Let us know in the comments how you save space in your small (or large) kitchen!

 

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Saving Space with Multi-Function Cookers

Kalorik 3-in-1 Breakfast Maker

Who wants a cluttered kitchen? It seems everyone I talk to is complaining about the lack of counter and/or storage space that they have in their kitchen. There are so many different appliances out there and they are great until you realize you don’t have a place to put them in your kitchen. Many manufacturers have become aware of this struggle and have answered with the multi-function cooker.

Multi-function cookers come in many different varieties from the breakfast makers that include a coffee maker, griddle and toaster all-in-one to the toaster ovens with burners on top. Though they come in many different varieties, one thing holds true with all of them: They save space. What was once 2, 3 or even 4 separate appliances is now in a single appliance. Isn’t technology grand?

Check out our multi-function cookers:

Sunpentown 3-in-1 Breakfast Maker   Nostalgia Electrics Breakfast Toaster   Kalorik 3-in-1 Mini Toaster Oven with Coffee Maker and Griddle   Avanti Multi-Function Countertop Oven

 

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How to Use a Washer Dryer Combo

washer dryer combo

You needed a laundry solution.  You were tired of trekking to a wash room or laundromat (washeteria for my friends in Louisiana).  You did the research and figured a washer dryer combo is what will fit your needs.   Now that you have this beautiful piece of equipment, what do you do with it?  Here are some simple guidelines to follow to help you use your combo most effectively.

Choose Your Load Size

Most units have a 13 to 15 pound capacity, though LG makes a unit with a 22 pound capacity.  13 to 15 pounds is about 3 complete outfits (pants, shirt, socks and undergarments), or about 6 to 8 bath towels.  It is important not to overload the unit, as it will not get your clothes as clean as they can be and it will be harder for the unit to dry the clothes.

Combo Washer Dryer Detergent

Next comes the detergent.  It is imperative that you use a low sudsing, high efficiency detergent, something with that cute little HE symbol on it.

HE Symbol

"Cute Little HE Symbol"

Powder works best, but if you prefer a liquid, go for it.  With these units, about two heaping tablespoons is all you need.  Most units will also have a space for fabric softener.  This is highly recommended because it helps to cut down on wrinkles, and generally makes your load soft afterwards.  There will also be a place to add bleach.  As with the detergent, powder bleach will work best, but you can use liquid just fine.  Be sure not to use too much though!

Water Setup

If you have the unit hooked to separate hot and cold water outlets, then you just choose whichever setting will work for your load.  Now, if you have the unit hooked to just one outlet with a faucet adapter and Y connector, you should use just cold water.  If you want to wash something in hot, set the machine for hot water and the unit will heat the water for you.  Also, cold water helps the unit dry the clothes better than hot water (weird, I know, but trust me on this one).

Final Tips

Now, just load the clothes, put in the detergent, choose your cycle, and you are off and running.  Keep in mind, once the cycle starts, the door will lock and you will be unable to open until the entire cycle is finished.  You can set these units to wash only, dry only or both.  Generally, a full wash and dry cycle takes about 3 hours.

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Slow Cookers are Back in Style

slow cookerSlow cookers are one of the most convenient small appliances for cooking dinner, especially for a family. The best part being, for most recipes, you can just set it, forget it and ta-da! Dinner is ready!

Slow cookers are easy to use and easily accessible as counter top appliances. They are primarily used for simmering stews, dips, roasts and so much more. They cook over a long period of time as an alternative to baking, boiling, or frying, and can be left unattended. Families are often busy working, running errands, running kids from one activity to the next and slower cookers are one the best ways for busy families to cook and enjoy a healthy meal together.

Slow CookerAnother great advantage when preparing slow cooker meals is the fact that it can save money on meals. Instead of going out to dinner a couple nights a week, you can cook a chicken or gumbo, among other recipes, and have leftovers to last a few days.  Many of the meals you can prepare in your slow cooker also tend to be less fattening, which is also beneficial for you and your family, keeping you healthy, strong, and energized.

Thanks to the development and evolution of technology, slow cookers have gone digital with set it and forget it timers, like the Cuisinart Programmable Slow Cooker. It takes little to no effort for you to setup a meal in the morning, and it is ready for you to use by the end of the day.  Slow cookers are also more energy efficient.  They won’t over heat the kitchen, and you can use plastic liners to save you the time and the hassle of cleaning up.

Slow CookerNowadays there are many options to choose from, making this modern day appliance a valuable kitchen tool.  This sleek stainless steel and black slow cooker from Kalorik is great for cooking soups, stews, casseroles, pot roasts and more.  There are various brands, types, sizes, and pricing to choose from, however most will range from $20 to $200.

One thing is for sure, on a cold winter evening there is nothing better than coming home from a hard day’s work to find a bubbling stew or creamy casserole sitting ready to eat on the kitchen table. Slow cookers have definitely made a come-back with an ever-increasing army of devotees are returning to the time and money saving device with a newfound enthusiasm. For these penny-pinching and time-conscious cooks the slow cooker is a great solution for making a delicious and hassle-free diner.

CompactAppliance.com carries a variety of slow cookers to suit your busy family’s needs.  Come visit us and let us help you find the slower cooker that’s perfect for you.

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Best Appliances for a Boat

Life in a boat can be great, especially if you have the conveniences of home.  Here are some appliances that will help make your boating experience as comfortable as can be.

EdgeStar Portable Ice MakerPortable Ice Maker

While out boating, who doesn’t enjoy a nice tall glass of iced tea?  Well, you need ice for that, and a portable ice maker is a great way to give you the ice you want and need.  These units do not require a drain, and are relatively simple to use.  Just pour water in the reservoir, choose your ice size, and voila, ice appears in about 10 minutes (depending on model).

My favorite is the EdgeStar IP210SS.  This baby will make about 28 pounds of ice per day, holds about 2 pounds, and makes ice in as little as 6 minutes.  Plus, the commercial grade stainless steel means that it will not corrode in the salty sea air.  A quick tip though, if you use bottled water in your machine, you will want to add a tiny pinch of salt.  Most of these ice makers need some type of impurity in the water to make the ice.

Avanti Induction CooktopInduction Cooktop

You gotta eat, right?  I mean, you are out on the boat, you catch some fish, why not cook it up and serve it?  Fish, it’s what’s for dinner!  Anyway, an induction cooktop I think is a better choice than a regular hotplate or portable stove for a boat because they are generally safer and use less energy. An induction cooktop only heats the cooking vessel, so the actual cooking surface is cold to the touch, which helps prevent burns.

I am partial to the Avanti IHP1501.  It’s small and portable, has easy controls, and heats up to 440 degrees.  Best of all, it comes with a skillet, so no trying to hunt down an induction ready piece of cookware.  This unit comes with one.

EdgeStar 63 Qt Portable Fridge/FreezerPortable Fridge / Freezer

My coworker and I argued over this point, and since I’m writing this and she’s not, guess who won.  Basically, her point is that a mini fridge would be better.  I say a portable because it has both a 115V and a 12V option.  Plus, you will get more use out of it because it can go in the car with you and you can use it camping, hunting or fishing.

Now, these come in various sizes, but I chose to just go relatively down the middle with the EdgeStar FP630.  I am in love with this unit because it comes with a flash freeze option that will get it down to -8 degrees F in a matter of minutes.  And, it will hold the temperature for several hours if you unplug the unit.  However, you can set the temperature as high as 50 degrees, so you can use it as a refrigerator or a freezer.  This is also a favorite among fishermen (or women, whatever the case may be).

EdgeStar Portable Air ConditionerPortable Air Conditioner

Last summer, while I was vacationing in South Texas, I cruised around the Gulf of Mexico in a rather nice boat.  Not sure if you have ever been in South Texas in August, but it’s like being 3 blocks from the sun.  Enter the wonderful portable air conditioner.  Now, like all air conditioners, these units have to be vented in some way.  You can do it through a wall, ceiling, floor, window, whatever.  You just have to be certain to get the hot air coming off the compressor out of the room you are trying to cool.

My pick is the EdgeStar AP8000W.  This compact unit is powerful, will keep your cabin cool, and only uses 840Watts and 7.9Amps.  Plus, it will dehumidify up to 71 pints per day, and you don’t have to empty condensation from the collection tray.  Trust me, a comfortable cabin makes for a happy boater!

LG Washer Dryer ComboWasher Dryer Combo

Ok, so if you live in a houseboat, or are going to be on the water for an extended period of time, clean underwear, and well, clean clothes in general, are a necessity!  You have several options to help you with this.  A value option is the WonderWash and MiniSpin dryer combo, affectionately called The WonderSpin!  The WonderWash is a hand cranked clothes washer.  You basically put your clothes in, add water and detergent, spin it for about 5 minutes, drain the water into a sink, add more water for a rinse, drain, and you are done.  You then put your wet clothes into the MiniSpin.  This will spin dry your clothes for you to then hang them up.

Now, if you have the room, and the money, then you may want to consider a washer dryer combo.  These units will wash and dry all in the same drum, and most do not need venting because they use condensation drying.  Your best option on these, in my opinion, is the LG WM3455HW.  It has a 15 pound load capacity (2.7 cubic feet), and several washing and drying options.  Because of the condensation drying, most of these machines do not dry effectively.  However, the LG does a better job than most.  Also, you can get the optional portability kit that will allow you to store it in one place, then wheel it out when you need to and hook to a standard sink.  Finally, the great thing about this unit is that it plugs into a standard 115V outlet, so no special wiring is needed.

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Buyer’s Guide: The Different Types of Humidifiers

There are several reasons why I hate winter.  One, ITS FREAKING COLD!  Two, it gets dark so early, and I hate leaving work when it’s dark.  Three, ITS FREAKING COLD!  Four, the air is so dry that I go through lotion like water.  And, finally, ITS FREAKING COLD!

Though I can’t do anything about the sun rising and setting or how cold it is outside, I can control how dry it is inside my home.  Enter, the wonderful world of humidifiers!  This lovely invention will provide moisture in your environment, which is great if you are an asthma or allergy sufferer, or get that dreaded winter cold, or just breathe easier with a little moisture in the air.  Now, there are several types of humidifiers and I will go through some of the more popular and provide what I think are the best ones.  So, let’s get moist up in here!

Crane Warm Mist HumidifierWarm Mist Humidifiers

Warm mist humidifiers product a warm, soothing mist that you can see and feel. These are great for treating colds and the flu, and they tend to be quieter than cool mist humidifiers.  In addition, the mist that is produced tends to be cleaner than cool mist humidifiers.  However, warm mist humidifiers require frequent cleaning and are generally more difficult to clean.  They also tend to cover a smaller area than their cool mist counterparts.  And, since some of them produce a rather hot steam, you should keep them out of the reach of children.  That said, this is a great choice to help soothe a dry area and provide a little warmth at the same time.

My favorite warm mist humidifier is the Crane EE-5200.  It has a one gallon tank that will give you a minimum of 10 hours before it has to be refilled, and has an automatic shut off when the tank is empty.  Also, it features various fan speeds and has a built-in reservoir for steam medication.  It is available in both white and black, though I am partial to the black.  Finally, it is compact and lightweight, so you can take it with you from room to room.

Vornado Cool Mist HumidifierCool Mist Humidifiers

Cool mist humidifiers use a filter to trap minerals and impurities and then a cool invisible mist evaporates into the air. They are generally easy to clean, are more effective in larger areas and work better in warmer climates.  Also, many believe cool mist is easier to breathe.  But, cool mist units are generally noisier than their warm mist counterparts, and require more maintenance with filters that you should change often to avoid algae and mold build up.

My cool mist humidifier of choice is the Vornado HU1-0021-28 (formerly the EVHUM).  This unit covers a large area (up to 1,000 square feet), has an impressive 1.8 gallon tank and comes with Vornado’s patented whole room circulation.  Another great feature is that it has a humidistat control on it, so you can set the humidity level you want and the unit will maintain that setting.

 Essick Air Whole House HumidifierWhole House Humidifiers

Whole house humidifiers will cover a large area. Now, many people tend to get these point-of-use units confused with ones that you attach to your furnace or HVAC system.  This is not that.  These will cover large areas without the expense of adding it to your HVAC system.  These units tend  to be larger and thus will not go from room to room.  However, with large tanks (generally around 5 gallons), you can go a few days between filling.  A few things to remember when you get a larger unit like this is that you do have to clean the tanks and the unit itself about once a week, and there are filters and wicks that you should change out about every three months or so.  A couple of tips on using these units.  If you are trying to cover two separate floors, you will want to have it on the upper floor since humid air tends to be heavier than drier air.  Second, you will want to try to use filtered, bottled or distilled water to avoid the “white dust” that humidifiers tend to produce.

My choice among these units is the Essick Air 4D7800.  It’s a console style with a 5.5 gallon water holding capacity (split among two tanks).  This unit will cover up to 2,500 square feet, and has a replaceable two stage air filter.  Also, it comes on casters, so you can move it from one room to another, and it has a humidistat control for you to set the humidity level you are most comfortable with.

Vornado Ultrasonic HumidifierUltrasonic Humidifiers

Ultrasonic humidifiers use a metal diaphragm vibrating at an ultrasonic frequency, much like a speaker.  This creates water droplets that are then put in the air via a fan.  These units tend be virtually silent, and usually create a cool fog.  As with whole home humidifiers, you can get the “white dust” with these units, but if you use distilled, filtered or bottled water, this is usually avoided.  Also, these tend to require less maintenance and are rather easy to own and care for.

My favorite ultrasonic humidifier, and favorite overall humidifier, is the Vornado HU1-0022-06 (formerly the ULHUM).  This unit comes with a plethora of features, including a full LCD display screen, humidistat control and can do warm or cool mist!  With Vornado’s patented vortex action, this will cover a pretty sizable room and is virtually silent.  Now, when you purchase this unit, be sure to get the replacement demineralization cartridge, which helps remove the minerals from your water and eliminate that annoying “white dust.”

Now, this just covers some of the basics on humidifiers.  There are certainly other great ones out there, among them the Guardian Technologies (comes with relatively large tanks that will last for days), Honeywell (among the easiest to care for and are mostly germ free), Stadler Form (innovative designs and great durability) and Vicks (an industry leader with great history and reputation).  Plus, there are a large variety of  humidifiers for kids that will make their rooms fun and more comfortable.

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Best Appliances for a Small Kitchen

They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home, but living in tight quarters can be challenging especially when it comes to having a well-stocked kitchen. You want to be able to cook and clean with ease, without your appliances taking up too much space. Here are my top five recommendations for small kitchen appliances:

 

Koldfront Countertop DishwasherCountertop Dishwasher

Unfortunately, a dishwasher is one of the first things to go in a small kitchen. But, who wants to spend their evening hand-washing all of your dirty dishes? A countertop dishwasher can be your saving grace. It fits easily on most countertops and hooks up to almost any faucet.

This particular Koldfront model, pictured on the left, holds up to 6 place settings and has a cutlery basket. It also conserves water and energy.

 

Compact Refrigerator

Luckily, appliance manufacturers have recognized the need for a refrigerator between full-size and mini. Apartment-sized refrigerators are just slightly smaller than regular fridges and most feature all of the same amenities: vegetable crispers, extra storage in the door and an auto-defrost freezer. The only thing you might have to sacrifice (besides a little space) is an ice maker in the freezer section.

This MicroFridge apartment refrigerator/freezer pictured is perfect for a small space. Not only does it fit in tight spaces, but it has great storage for everything you need, plus a 0 degree, auto-defrost freezer and a unique design.

 

EdgeStar Portable Ice MakerPortable Ice Maker

Often times, smaller, compact refrigerators do not come with ice makers. Save yourself the trouble and space of ice trays with a portable ice maker. These fit easily on a countertop and you just need to add water and plug it in to create a good amount of ice. It works well for everyday use or entertaining.

The EdgeStar stainless steel portable ice maker pictured can make ice in under 10 minutes and comes with a set of 10 ice bags for storing the ice in a freezer.

 

Broil King Range

Cooktop

If your kitchen space is too small for a stovetop oven, the next best thing is a portable cooktop. These cooktops heat food with ease and can be stored elsewhere when not in use, saving your countertop space. You can also choose from a wide variety of models ranging from double burners to induction heating.

Pictured to the left is the Broil King Professional Double Burner Range. It features durable construction, high-watt heating and non-skid feet so it doesn’t move while in use.

 

Sanyo MicrowaveConvection/Microwave Oven

A microwave is an essential appliance in any kitchen, but can be even more necessary in a compact kitchen space that doesn’t have room for an oven.

This Sanyo 3-in-1 microwave oven allows you to microwave, grill and bake all in one unit. The compact design fits easily in a small space and is easy to use and clean. It cooks a large selection of dishes and has a wide temperature range. This works well to cook all your favorite foods without taking up a lot of room.

 

Having a small kitchen does not need to be the end all be all to having a functional kitchen. With a few simple adjustments and products you will be cooking gourmet meals and cleaning like a pro in no time!

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