Our Top Five Cake Decorating Books

Cake decorating books take a lot of commitment and patience. More often than not we tend to skip instructions and browse the pretty looking cakes and photo tutorials. These books we're sharing with you today are the ones my team and I really found useful when we make our personalized cakes in our bake shop in Paranaque.

1. The Complete Photo Guide To Cake Decorating by Autumn Carpenter 


Why This Book?

This book is perfect for beginners. It showcases different basic techniques for almost all kinds of decorating with fondant and icing. The photo guide is also easy to follow.

2. Twisted Cakes by Debbie Gourd 


Why This Book?

If you're not a fan of dark and gory cakes, that's totally fine! This book still showcases cake decorating methods that are surprisingly advanced. I can truly say that Debbie Gourd's techniques in this book opened a whole new door of skills to practice.

3. Cakes To Dream On by Colette Peters 


Why This Book?

One word.

I-N-S-P-I-R-A-T-I-O-N.

Yes, this book's title is spot on! Although I have to honestly say that the techniques in this book are quite challenging for beginners and most of the instructions take a lot of experience to easily understand, we gained a lot of influence with the author's use of colors and different styles of Colette's cakes in this book. I love how every cake had a different type of creativity and uniqueness.

4. Modern Sugar Flowers by Jacqueline Butler 


Why This Book?

I AM IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOK! Recently, we have been devoting our free time practicing the methods in this book. So far, we are truly happy with the results. The flowers look soft and almost realistic. However, in order to succeed with the final output, reading each step is crucial and the tools used are important. Make sure you pack up a ton of patience and a good comfortable seat before committing to this book.

5. Chic and Unique Wedding Cakes by Zoe Clark


Why This Book?

Classy, simple, romantic and modern wedding cakes are presented in this book. It's well-illustrated and has plenty of modern procedures.


Admittedly, these books are an investment. Reading reviews online are highly suggested before splurging. I take a lot of time browsing in book stores to help me decide which book I have to have and will have the time to actually read and practice. Most books only show pretty cake pictures and are not heavy on the instructions which is already a total let down since ninety percent of the time the cakes you've seen in the books can be browsed on Google and Pinterest.


Happy reading! :)



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Larisse is a full-time foodie, blogger and professional cakemaker. She makes a living making personalized cakes in Paranaque as the founder and co-owner of CANVAS Cake Studio. She blogs to relax and express her thoughts in her website: Larisse Gastronomique. She’s also known for her love of cheese and weird appreciation of odd humor.


5 Nifty Cellphone Camera Tricks


Hi guys! Let me just share my short insights on cellphone cameras and how to make better shots using them.

I personally have two phones at my disposal: The Huawei P9 and the waterproof Kyocera Hydro Elite.

Today’s generation of mobile phones have now become devices that can not only just let you call and text people, but they have also turned into versatile devices that can perform multiple functions. Due to this, more people have looked into finding many ways to expand their functionality even more, like unlocking your phone to be open to all networks, using it as a video camera, and using it as a gaming platform.

One of the most widely used features in today’s smartphones is the camera. Most of the latest phone models now have two cameras, one in the front, and one at the back. The camera allows you to take quality videos and photos in a quick and convenient fashion. For most people, their smartphone is also their primary camera, capturing memories of their friends and notable places. With this in mind, it is best to find some ways to make these photos look better when taking them. Here are some nifty cellphone camera tricks that would make your pictures look better.

Make use of lighting



Most cellphones now have a flash option in their cameras, which allow you to take pictures in low-light areas. While this may be a handy feature, smartphone photos that use the built-in flash tend to still have that dim look. The best ways to take quality photos is by making use of natural light, which greatly improves the quality of your photo, and making use of bright indoor lighting, which also gives you a similar result.

Get Closer



While smartphone cameras now have the optical zoom option, there are times that the picture quality gets a slight drop. To get the best quality photo, it is best to get closer to your subject. This will allow you to get a quality photo with a great amount of detail.

Clean up your lens



Have you ever experienced seeing blurry spots when using your camera? That might mean there’s smudge or dust blocking the camera lens. Simply clean up your lens every now and then, and you may be surprised at how a clean lens makes a significant difference.

Use a different camera app



The default camera apps in most smartphones provide you with a good number of features already, but there are 3rd party apps that will take the functionality of your camera even further. Some apps allow you to explore different filters and effects to give you the right shot that you have been looking for. There are even some apps that increase the quality of your camera, which makes for some beautiful shots.

Change your perspective


When you care taking pictures with your phone camera, try experimenting different positions and perspectives on certain subjects. This will help you find out some of the best angles to use when going to different locations and subjects. There would be times that a change in perspective will turn your average photo into a great one.

Smartphone cameras have come a long way from their old VGA quality ancestors. You basically have a quality digital camera that allows you to capture the best moments out of your pocket. With these nifty camera tricks, you are sure that you can make use of your phone camera well.

*This a joint article written by Justin Estor & Larisse Espinueva.*

How To Make Homemade SURVIVAL Bars


Survival is one game that should be played the correct way. One must learn how to focus on their surroundings, their belongings, and most of all, themselves. In the wild, everyone is prey. You just have to know how to think on your feet and survive.

When it comes to survival, there are lots of items that can be purchased for future use, particularly survival bars. They’re hand-sized packaged foods that are packed with all the necessary nutrients you’ll need to get through anything. While buying them is easy, making them yourself through numerous baking recipes is just as easy.

If you’re planning on your next outdoor trip and you’re wishing to save some money besides buying these bars, here is a simple way to mix them.



Ingredients

When it comes to baking, or cooking in general, it’s essential that you gather your needed ingredients for whatever you’re going to make. It’s also important to know what kind of ingredients you’d need for the dish.

For these homemade survival bars, all you’ll need are the following:
·       2 cups oats (regular or quick)
·       2 1/2 cups powdered milk
·       1 cup sugar
·       3 TB honey
·       13 oz package jello
·       3 TB water
Once you have your ingredients ready, you’ll need the following equipment to get you started:

·       A Mixer
·       A Pot
·       A Pan
·       An Oven (Optional)

With all that you need ready, set up your station and get to work.

Procedure


Mix Oats, Powdered Milk, and Sugar in a Bowl

·       The oats are a common component to a survival bar, so it’s important to get through this step in the process first before proceeding to the next. Make sure to mix them well for hassle-free steps along the way.

Mix Water, Jello, and Honey in a pot. Bring it to a boil

·       These ingredients are what helps mold your bar into shape, particularly the jello. The honey, mixed with the sugar among the dry ingredients, are what helps give your survival bars a sweet texture so as to encourage you to enjoy the taste whilst focusing on your survival when the time comes.

Add Jello Mixture to the Dry Ingredients. Mix Well.

·       Once your mixture with jello is all done and boiled, it’s time to add it to the bowl of powdered milk, sugar, and oats. Once they’re all together, you can either mix by hand, or by electronic means. Either way, you’ll be done with this in a minute or two and will be ready to move on to the next step.

Add the Mixture to a Pan Lined up in Parchment Paper

·       Now that the mixing process is done, it’s time to place it a pan to prepare for baking. Before putting the mixture in, make sure to line up the pan in parchment paper to avoid it from sticking to the pan. Also, make sure to always measure the quantity of what you’ve just made. That way, you’ll know which pan to use.

With the Mixture in the Bowl, Place the Pan in the Oven for 1 ½ to 2 hours in a Temperature of 200 degrees

·       With everything done and prepared, it’s time to place your pan in the oven. Once it’s done, your bars will now be ready to be made into actual bars and for you to pack them up and eat on your next trip.

Key Takeaway


When one tells you that baking is only meant as a recreational mean, pay no mind to their criticisms. With a baking recipe like this that can prove vital in times like this, you’ll be able to survive any situation in the wild.

*This is a guest post by Esther Diaz and is for informational purposes only.*

Carpe Diem: Seizing Their Days Right!

There are a lot of reasons why this cafe does not need this article at all. A great cafe that can smoothly survive without the feature driven food businesses of today. Carpe Diem is doing all things right. 

1. Food
Once I start talking about their food, there's no need to read the rest of this article. It took me four visits before I could complete this post. Four seemingly needed personal visits to work in a stress free environment. It's nice to actually look forward to a comforting meal other than their fast Wi-Fi.

Chicken Pesto Panini


Chicken Teriyaki Rice


Baked Citrus Crust Fish


Chocolate Fondant Cake


Chicken Tonkatsu with Mozarella


Chicken and Prawns


2. Adequate Lighting, Seating Options and Work Space
There are two areas in their new location. One is what I believe to be more for the "Tita Dates" considering the comfy couches and low rise tables and alone-time studying. The inner area can be used for big groups/activities from time-to-time or a quieter study space. Either way their new place is way better than before!



3. Wi-Fi and Outlets
The place is generous with power outlets and fast Wi-Fi

4. Great Service
The staff is well-trained and all smiles when asked about their menu. The food and drinks are also served right away.

Overall, if you're looking for a no-fail cafe around BF Homes, this is it my friends!

CARPE DIEM 
Aguirre Ave, BF Homes, Paranaque
02 8086481



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Larisse is a full-time foodie, blogger and professional cakemaker. She makes a living making personalized cakes in Paranaque as the founder and co-owner of CANVAS Cake Studio. She blogs to relax and express her thoughts in her website: Larisse Gastronomique. She’s also known for her love of cheese and weird appreciation of odd humor.



When Baking Becomes Boring



Congratulations! I can confidently say that you have mastered whatever it is you used to enjoy baking. First comes the hobby, next came the home-based business.


I started baking back in high school when I would bake almost every week. At first, even a boxed cake mix would already get everyone in the house rushing to come downstairs to eat those piping hot baked goodies. Flat cookies, burnt brownies, and scorched cake tops, been there done that! And the best part, we still ate it!

First ever attempt on sugar cookies!!! Cookies were so hard and burnt! Haha

So I baked and baked until I can confidently say I've memorized the recipes and can bake five times faster than I used to. No more fears and second-guessing just an acquired skill with blazing amount of confidence that whatever recipe I frequently made will taste great!

With the business starting to pick up, it was exciting at first but when it got more demanding, baking alone everyday with no one to talk to and not much time to go out for fun, there were a lot of times that I felt unmotivated and thought that the work was very repetitive. It was always so hot, tiring, and felt extremely time-consuming. The baking "magic" was gone.

Nautical - Themed Cake and Dessert Spread 


To cut the story short, here I am now with a home-based baking business, two business partners, and one assistant who I am much grateful for. As in, it was probably the best decision I've made for the business but we'll get to that later.

So, how did I get out of the dreadful days of baking?

I didn't.

I decided to look the other way. Quitting wasn't an option. Considering the progress, the clients I had, and the income I was making, it will be such a waste to throw it all away. Plus, what was I going to do with all the tools and equipment I got? I finally acquired the skill that I am good at, why stop now?

I took several breaks and vacations but nothing seemed to work. Then, there was a lightbulb as bright as the sun that popped in my head. Maybe it's time to grow. Maybe it's not the vacation I needed but rather the solution.

Many or maybe some of you one-man/woman-show business owners are struggling with the same dilemma. So here's what I did:

1. Classes and Workshops
There is always something new to learn and master. If you're a bit stingy or budget conscious you can always learn online where it's F-R-E-E. If time and scheduling is the problem, there are a lot of online schools that offer tutorials for a reasonable price and even have promos for a monthly/annual subscription. Lastly, if you have the money and time, just sign up for a class. Consider it an investment and more of a reason to charge more for your pastries. You might even find new friends!

Online Cake Schools
1. Avalon Cake School
https://avaloncakesschool.com/
2. Paul Bradford Sugar Class School
- https://www.designer-cakes.com
3. Joy of Baking
- http://www.joyofbaking.com/

Some Upcoming Classes in Metro Manila


2. Find a Business Partner
Being your own boss is a dream but the power of two (or more) will always be better than one specially when it comes to baking! Deciding to get an assistant wasn't an option for me. I needed another me! Meaning, I needed another brain to share the load with. Hiring an assistant to do minimal grunt work and cleaning up is great but he/she won't think for the betterment of the business or decide on anything. No matter how many assistants you hire, they will only do what they're told.  Think of a friend who has the same passion as you or someone from baking class that has the same vision. There will always be a risk of having arguments but as long as there is mutual respect and professionalism to an extent despite the unusual setup, then everything will be A-OK! Equality is key!

Our Team with Host/Actress Melai Cantiveros of Magandang Buhay

And if you're willing to take drastic measures....

3. Comfortable Space and Working Environment
Whether finding a space in your own home or renting your own baking place, working will be better than ever. Redecorating and buying added accents will create a more inviting, inspiring and motivating environment.

Lastly,

4. Never Stop Improving and Brainstorming
I believe that the more you grow, the more that there is to be improved. Higher demands means higher standards. People believe in you more. If the product used to be "OK and WOW" already for the clients you used to or still have from day one, that's because they had lower expectations since you were just starting out. As time went by, I have learned that people get harder and harder to please specially when they see that you have set a standard for your product.

And if things are still boring, just bake again! Try out a new recipe, a new technique or maybe even a new trend. If it fails, then just it eat! Still a win-win!






ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Larisse is a full-time foodie, blogger and professional cakemaker. She makes a living making personalized cakes in Paranaque as the founder and co-owner of CANVAS Cake Studio. She blogs to relax and express her thoughts in her website: Larisse Gastronomique. She’s also known for her love of cheese and weird appreciation of odd humor.


Healthy Recipes That Use Alcohol



There’s no denying that everyone loves to drink every once in a while. Whether it’s a simple get-together between a group of friends or a simple gathering of adults, alcohol is the guaranteed guest of honor and the various alcohol distributors are your best friends.

While alcohol is loved by many, it, like others, has its other effects that come along with it other than a temporary feeling of glee and courage that, although temporary, is also guaranteed to leave you hungover the next day. Alcohol can affect you in various ways if overly-consumed, ranging from slight effects like weight-gain to more severe ones like heart disease. What you’re about to behold sheds light on the former.

Keeping healthy is a staple in one’s day to day life. There are many ways to do so like going out for jog around your neighborhood to going on a strict diet with nothing but the healthiest of foods to sustain you. But does that mean you would have to sacrifice your happy hours to stay in shape? For some, yes it does but for many, it doesn’t have to be the case as alcohol, besides helping you unwind after particularly stressful days at work, can prove to be part of your healthy regimen as well.

Alcohol, while usually best drunk, is also a common ingredient when it comes to cooking or mixing other drinks. It’s a common sight to see chefs infuse alcohol, such as wine, into their many dishes such as using wine as an agent for cooking the perfect steak, or using beer as an ingredient for the batter to be used for many deep-fried delicacies. For the healthier alternative, here are other recipes that use alcohol as one of their ingredients:

1.   Pina Coladas



Alcohol Featured: Rum

This drink is suited for people with a taste for the tropical. If you wish to venture to the summertime bliss or sadness (pardon the reference), this drink is definitely for you.

To make this, all you’ll need is the following:

·       3 parts Pineapple Juice
·       1 part Coconut milk
·       1 part White rum

Once you have your ingredients with you, just pour it all in the blender and blend unti you get a smooth consistency. Then pour it in a glass and top it off with a garnish of your choice: a wedge of pineapple or the classic maraschino cherry. Enjoy!

2.   Alcohol-Infused Ice Cubes



Alcohol Featured: Prosecco (White Wine)

Staying hydrated is essential for one to stay healthy, but, what if your iced water has a bit of a kick in flavor? If you’re looking for a more refined and buzzing way to hydrate, this drink gives you just that.

Simply pour your prosecco, or any white wine you may have, into your ice tray and freeze overnight. Once ready, pour a glass of water and add your wine cubes.

To make it more interesting, slice several fruits like Oranges, Lemons, Strawberries, and/or Kiwis and add them to your drink to make a more flavorful version of your ice water with a kick.

3.   Fruit Salad



Alcohol Featured: Vodka

This is the dish for you if you want to put a more fun and thrilling twist on this classic dessert. All you’ll need for this dish are the following:

·       Fruits of your Choice (preferably Mangoes, Watermelons, Cantaloupes, Honeydews, Apples, Kiwis, and Strawberries)
·       Any vodka of your Choice

To make this dish, you’ll need to place all the fruit in separate containers and pour the vodka into those fruit-filled containers. Make sure all the fruit has been peeled and cubed for your convenience. Leave the fruit to soak in the vodka for about an hour or two.

Once you’re satisfied with the time the fruit spent soaking, strain the vodka out of the fruits and then arrange the fruits however you like in a bowl and serve! Also, don’t throw away the vodka you strained out of the fruits just yet as you can save it for later.

4.   Braised Chicken


Alcohol Featured: Beer

When it comes to the drink everyone loves when they get together, beer is the beloved beverage consumed by everyone. Like any other alcoholic beverage, beer can be used as an ingredient in your culinary adventures, particularly when you want to bring out the best in your protein-filled meat known as chicken.

For this dish, you’ll need the following:

·       12 oz. of Beer
·       Boneless Chicken Thighs
·       Salt
·       Pepper
·       Thyme
·       Onions
·       Parsley
·       Olive Oil
·       Bacon
·       Flour
·       Potatoes

Gather all your ingredients at your table. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the bacon, then cook until browned for 4-5 minutes. While that happens, season your chicken thigh/s with salt and pepper and dredge with flour. Add the olive oil in the pan once you’ve taken out your bacon and then add the chicken, cook it for about 6-7 minutes until golden at the bottom, then sear the other side for one more minute.

Once the chicken is done, keep it in the pot as you’re going to add the beer, potatoes, thyme, and water to finish it. While that happens, make sure the chicken is fully submerged in the liquids. Then just let it simmer for a few more minutes and serve.

5.   Steaks



Alcohol Featured: Red Wine

Steaks are also a good source of protein and it can be prepared however you like, whether you’re a fan of medium to well-done. The dish is also best paired with wine but when it comes to merging the two into one dish, the result is a dish with an abundance of flavor.

For this, you’ll need the following:

·       300ml of Red Wine
·       25g of Butter
·       Sirloin Steaks
·       Salt and Pepper

Start off by seasoning the steaks with pepper. Heat the pan to high and add the butter and wait for it to melt. Once melted, add your steaks. After 3 minutes, turn over the steaks and cook for another 3 minutes for the other side.

Once the steaks are done, take it out and turn down the heat and add the red wine and other spices you wish to add such as thyme, shallots, mustard and such and just let it cook. Re-add the steaks into the pan, let it cook in the sauce, and serve.

These are just some of the dishes you can try with your favorite drink in your spare time. It just goes to show that alcohol may not just be your best friend in socializing, but in the kitchen as well without the unhealthiness of it.

Why Millennials Prefer Being their own Boss


The times have indeed changed. Technology has all but taken over the world and the characteristics of people have drastically changed through the course of time. Lifestyle choices now are also vastly different from before. That said, enter Generation Y, otherwise known by many as Millennials.

Millennials are often misunderstood by many, especially in terms of their lifestyle and career choices. From wanting to start up their own companies to choosing to work in virtual offices in areas like Manila, the corporate aspects of employment have been somewhat considered “obsolete” in the sense where most millennials simply don’t want to work in the traditional sense, but rather take on more innovative and ingenious approaches to work.

To better explain the concept, here are some reasons as to why millennials prefer being their own boss:

1.  They’re motivated by their own personal goals in Life

This one is sort of a broad statement. Essentially, millennials are so focused on their own aspirations in life that they are driven to do what it takes to reach it. When millennials are employed and they feel like resigning after a period of time because they might feel like it’s going nowhere, they just simply lost the drive to stay and want to venture to new heights. It’s a characteristic that’s often misunderstood, yet, applauded by many as millennials actually show the courage to redefine themselves not just as employees, but as human being as well.

2.  They would rather work at their own pace

No one likes it when they’re suddenly stacked with deadlines to meet. But by being their own boss in their respective fields, they have the ability to set their work at their own pace. No matter how long it could take, rest assured that millennial employees will still deliver their full potentials and make sure the output of their work is of the best quality.

3.  They thrive better in a carefree work environment

The feeling of being pressured to meet deadlines and other expectations is not something one likes to feel. When an office space promotes things like board games, snack bars, and something like an all-you-can-eat buffet, the atmosphere it emits  can motivate any millennial to work extra hard for the reward of just sitting back with their feet up.

If they’re being their own boss, the value they would want to instill into their employees is to “work hard, play hard”.

4.  They set their own rules and regulations to abide by

It’s not because they detest authority but, as mentioned before, they just choose to take on a new approach with how they work. When they become their own bosses at their own companies, they will now have the ability to set their own company rules, regulations and other policies for themselves and their employees to abide by. Also, they’re a bit more lenient on the rules they make but nonetheless strict on having them followed.


Times have changed for everyone but it doesn’t mean that tradition should be completely disregarded. With millennials preferring to work by themselves, for themselves, think of modern employment as “reinventing” the times. Besides, they are among the independent people you see nowadays, focusing on putting their plans to fruition and taking matters in their own hands all while expecting the many forms of authority.

If you think about it, corporations can learn a thing or two about millennials. They work at their fullest, while making work as fun as it can be.