easy vegetables Vegetarian Recipes

I Am... Smashed Brussel Sprouts

These smashed brussel sprouts are my new addiction. Crispy, creamy, sweet, savory, with a hint of chili and lime - these are seriously good. If you like smashed potatoes or twice baked potatoes, you’ll love these! Is there anything brussels sprouts can’t do? Those lil mini green cabbages are cute, super nutritious, easy to cook, and taste good too. It seems like SO long ago that people hated on brussel sprouts. Now we can’t get enough of them. I can’t get enough of them! 

Is it brussel sprouts or brussels sprouts?

First off though, is it brussel sprouts or brussels sprouts? It’s actually Brussels sprouts, after Brussels, the capital of Belgium. For some reason, the “s” at the end seems to throw people off. Maybe it’s because it should be Brussels’ sprouts? Now I’m curious, what do they call brussels sprouts in Belgium? Are they just: sprouts? And how do they like to serve them?

What are smashed brussel sprouts?

Smashed brussel sprouts are sprouts that are cooked until tender (usually by boiling), dried, tossed in oil, then smashed, and baked until crispy on the outside and tender and creamy on the inside. They’re kind of like smashed potatoes, but a little bit healthier because they have more protein and fiber than potatoes. You can season them in thousands of ways, much like potatoes.

What do smashed brussel sprouts taste like?

These particular smashed sprouts are a mix of sweet, savory, and spicy. They’re nicely crisped and caramelized on the outside and tender on the inside. A generous sprinkling of garlic powder, parm, and Tajin make them full of umami, garlicky, tangy, and just the right amount of spicy.

How to make smashed brussel sprouts

  1. Cook the sprouts. Just like smashed potatoes, we’re going to start with cooking the sprouts in salted boiling water until they’re tender and cooked through. After they’re bright green and tender, give them a good drain and make sure they’re fairly dry.
  2. Toss. Toss the dried sprouts with oil, parmesan, and garlic powder.
  3. Smash. Use the bottom of a glass to smash the sprouts so that they’re flat.
  4. Bake. Bake in a hot oven until crispy and caramelized, flipping halfway through.
  5. Season. When they’re done, remove from the oven and season generously with Tajin for a spicy-lime-salt kick!

Smashed sprouts ingredients

  • Sprouts - just good old classic brussel sprouts! Try to get ones that are all around the same size so they cook and roast at the same time. To trim them, use a small pairing knife to slice off a bit of the stem at the bottom, removing any outer leaves if needed.
  • Oil - go with whatever oil you have on hand, I like a neutral high heat oil when roasting vegetables, something like canola oil or grapeseed oil.
  • Garlic powder and parm - I love fresh garlic, but sometimes garlic power is better and this is one of those cases. Garlic powder has the ability to stick better to the sprouts giving them a nice garlicky coat. Freshly grated parm adds saltiness, nuttiness, and a huge hit of umami.
  • Tajin - a chili lime seasoning that is absolutely addictive. You can find it at the grocery store or online. They’re a cult classic, sprinkled on everything from fruit (especially mangos!), to corn, to bloody marys. People love them so much that they even sell the CUTEST mini bottles so you can carry it around with you so you’ll never be without. This is not sponsored, I just love Tajin :)

Smashed brussel sprout seasonings

I love the spicy-tangy kick of Tajin but if you’re looking for other ways to season your sprouts, I’ve got you! Try these guys out:
  • garlic - double the garlic powder and leave off the Tajin seasoning.
  • ranch - mix together 1 tsp each buttermilk powder, dried parsley, dried dill, onion powder and toss with the oil and garlic powder before baking.
  • everything bagel - finish with a generous sprinkle of everything bagel seasoning.
  • nori - finish with a generous sprinkle of furikake (Japanese rice seasoning with nori)
  • lemon tahini - finish with lemon zest and a quick tahini sauce (1 clove garlic, minced, 1/4 cup greek yogurt, 1 tbsp tahini, 1 tsp lemon juice, salt and pepper)
  • fine herbs and butter - chop up 2 tablespoons of herbs of choice (scallions, parsley, dill, thyme, oregano) and mix with 1-2 tablespoons of melted butter and drizzle on smashed sprouts

What to serve with smashed sprouts

Other brussel sprouts recipes

If you’re a brussel sprouts lover, here are 6 brussel sprouts recipes for you to enjoy:

Smashed Brussel Sprouts

Crispy, creamy, sweet, savory, with a hint of chili and lime - if you like smashed potatoes, you’ll love these smashed brussel sprouts!

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts (trimmed)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • tajin (to season, as needed)
  1. Heat the oven to 450°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add sprouts to the boiling water and cook until bright green and tender, 8-10 minutes, depending on size. Drain very well and let cool slightly.



  2. Toss the dry sprouts with oil, parmesan, and garlic powder.



  3. Add the tossed sprouts to the prepared baking sheet and use a small glass to smash the sprouts.



  4. Bake until the sprouts are crispy and deeply brown, 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.



  5. When the sprouts are done, remove from the oven and season generously with Tajin. Enjoy hot!



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comfort easy pasta

I Am... Honeycomb Pasta

Honeycomb pasta aka rigatoni pie aka pasta pie is having a moment. People are calling it an affront to food and Italians are turning over in their graves. I especially like the meme where someone is literally just *screaming.* But why? I mean, honeycomb pasta is rigatoni stacked up in a springform pan, topped with sauce and cheese and baked up into a pie. You could say that it’s kind of like a lasagna but with rigatoni. Or mini upright manicotti or cannelloni. I’ve made a rigatoni and cheese pie way back in the day without stacking the rigatoni into a honeycomb shape and I loved it. I had to give honeycomb pasta a try and see what all the fuss was about. Spoiler alert, I loved it!

What is honeycomb pasta?

Honeycomb pasta is what people are calling rigatoni pie or pasta pie. Essentially, it’s rigatoni - a medium sized tube shaped pasta – that’s stacked upright in a pan, topped with sauce and cheese and baked. In the viral honeycomb pasta video that’s going around, each rigatoni is stuffed with mozzarella string cheese.

Why are people hating on honeycomb pasta?

Apparently there’s a honeycomb pasta divide and you can either be for or against. There is no saucy middle ground. It’s been called “cursed” on twitter but lots of people have also come to its defense. I think the issue people have is the fact that the viral honeycomb pasta video going around is made with jarred sauce, string cheese, and fried ground meat. I admit, it’s a lot of string cheese, but hey, I love string cheese and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. String cheese is literally low moisture mozzarella, the kind they use on pizza. Mike, who has mild trypophobia, disagreed with me and explained another possible reason to me, so I made sure to make a version that doesn't trigger his phobia too much.  

What does honeycomb pasta taste like

It’s delicious! If you love baked pastas like lasagna or baked ziti, you’ll love honeycomb pasta. Super savory, tomato-y beef sauce, tender pasta, and loads of gooey melty cheese baked to perfection. It’s so good, especially if you take the time to make a really good sauce like we’re going to do here.

How to make honeycomb pasta

  1. Make a meat sauce: sauté some ground beef until lightly brown but not crispy, then remove from the pot. In the same pot, sauté onions with carrots and celery in olive oil until soft and very tender. Add the beef back into the pot and stir in tomato paste, beef stock, and cream. Let simmer, reduce, and bubble away while you prep the pasta.
  2. Cook the pasta: boil the pasta in salted water 2-3 minutes less than the package directions and drain well. Toss with parm if you want an extra cheesy pie.
  3. Honeycomb: Lightly oil a springform pan and pack the rigatoni, vertically, inside the pan. Slide in sticks of low moisture mozzarella into half (or all) of the rigatoni.
  4. Sauce: Top the rigatoni with the meat sauce, making sure it gets into all the holes.
  5. Cheese: Top with sliced or shredded mozzarella and a sprinkling of parm.
  6. Bake: Bake for 30 minutes in the oven, or until the cheese is golden brown and crispy.
  7. Cool and enjoy: Let cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then slice and enjoy!

Honeycomb pasta ingredients

  • rigatoni - rigatoni are straight tubes of pasta with straight cut edges. They’re pretty much common at all grocery stores, sometimes varying in size by a little bit.
  • ground beef - use lean ground beef or if you have it at your grocery store, a 50-50 mix of lean ground beef and pork.
  • onions, carrots, and celery - these three aromatics make up the classic Italian soffritto and will add so much flavor to your sauce!
  • tomato paste and tomato sauce - tomato paste is concentrated tomato flavor, sweet and intense. For the tomato sauce, go for super simple sauce where the can ingredients are just tomatoes.
  • beef stock and cream - the beef stock will boost the beef-y flavors and add umami and the cream adds a nice layer of richness.
  • cheese - we’re going for low moisture mozzarella, which, incidentally is what string cheese is! Cube it up according to what will fit into your rigatoni. Low moisture mozzarella is super stringy, melty, and essentially the perfect cheese for baked pastas.

FAQ

Do I need a springform pan?

A springform pan, is a pan where the sides can be removed from the base. You can make this in a regular pan, but you won’t be able to get it out of the pan. Up to you - depends if you’re making this for aesthetic or delicious reasons. Either way, you’ll want a pan that’s at least 8 inches.

Can I make this vegetarian?

You can skip out on the meat sauce and use marinara if you don’t eat meat.

Can I used jarred sauce and string cheese?

Absolutely, you can use jarred sauce if that’s your jam. As for string cheese, you’re better off buying off buying 1 lb of low moisture mozzarella and cutting it up yourself. Less plastic and you can cut the cheese according to what size your rigatoni is.

Do I have to use rigatoni?

You can use any tubular pasta, as long as you want to stack it vertically: ziti, penne, or paccheri.

What to serve with honeycomb pasta

Happy honeycombing! xoxo steph

Honeycomb Pasta Recipe

Honeycomb pasta aka rigatoni pie aka pasta pie is having a moment.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground beef (lean preferred)
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 stalk celery (diced)
  • 1 carrot (diced)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup beef stock (low sodium preferred)
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 1 lb rigatoni
  • 1 lb low moisture fresh mozzarella cheese
  1. In a large pot, heat up a bit of oil and cook the ground beef, breaking up and stirring. When browned and cooked through, remove from the pan.



  2. Add the onion, celery, and carrot and cook, stirring until soft, but not browned.



  3. Stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, beef stock, cream, and ground beef. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.



  4. Heat the oven to 375°F. Cook the rigatoni 1-2 minutes shy of al dente according to the package instructions, then drain well. Arrange the pasta upright in a lightly oiled 8 inch springform pan.



  5. Cut 1/2 of the mozzarella into strips that will fit the rigatoni and slice the remaining half. Add the mozzarella strips into random rigatoni (or you can stuff every single one).



  6. Top with a generous layer of sauce and layer with the sliced mozzarella. Top with grated parmesan, if desired.



  7. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the cheese is melty and golden. Let rest for 5-10 minute before removing from the pan. Serve with the extra sauce on the side if desired. Enjoy!



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30 minutes or less easy japanese food noodles

I Am... Mayo Ramen

If you’re looking to up your instant ramen game with a luxurious and creamy broth, mayo ramen is the recipe for you! All you need is a pack of your favorite instant ramen, a squirt of kewpie mayo, minced garlic, and an egg.

You’ve got to try this!

There’s a Japanese ramen Tiktok hack that’s going viral: kewpie mayo in ramen. The kewpie mayo adds a rich and creamy flavor to the ramen broth and people are going wild over it, saying that it makes instant ramen taste just like long-simmered ramen broth from a legit ramen restaurant. So, if you’ve ever wondered, is mayo good in ramen, the resounding answer is yes!

Where is mayo ramen from?

Ramen and mayo is not a new thing - in Japan they even sell mayo flavored ramen. Not surprising, considering Japan is obsessed with Kewpie mayo. But recently, a squirt of mayo in instant ramen has been trending on Japanese Youtube and Tiktok.

What does mayo ramen taste like?

It tastes like instant ramen with a luxurious boost of umami and richness thanks to the kewpie mayo and garlic. Instead of your typical thin instant ramen broth, the kewpie mayo and egg help thicken and give body to the broth, making the soup cling to the noodles better.

Why it makes sense

Adding an extra bit of fat to ramen broth is classic in ramen making, usually in the form of aroma oil (that’s the little packet of fat you get in instant ramen seasoning) By boosting the fat content by using kewpie mayo, your instant ramen will instantly (LOL) become thicker and more flavorful. The kewpie adds complexity, mouthfeel, and a huge amount of flavor by helping the broth stick to the noodles as you pull them up.

How to make mayo ramen

  1. Make the sauce. In a large bowl, whisk together mayo, a raw egg, 1 clove garlic minced, and the seasoning packet from an instant ramen pack.
  2. Cook the instant ramen. Bring 2 cups of water up to a boil and cook the noodles according to the package time. When your timer goes off, remove from the heat.
  3. Add the hot water to the sauce. Pour the hot water into the sauce, swirling as you go - the hot water will cook the egg and emulsify it into a creamy soup.
  4. Add the noodles. Carefully add the noodles to the soup.
  5. Serve. Top with sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds, as well as any other toppings you’d like. Enjoy immediately!

Mayo ramen ingredients

  • ramen - this one is pretty simple, just grab your favorite instant ramen! More on the best ramen to pick, below.
  • Kewpie mayo - the key to this magical ramen hack is kewpie mayo, a Japanese mayo. It’s rich creamy, and just a touch sweet.
  • garlic - a bit of raw garlic in the sauce adds a hit of garlicky flavor. It’s cooked and mellowed out a bit by the hot soup, so it’s not raw when you eat the ramen, it ends up being just garlicky goodness.

What is kewpie mayo

Kewpie mayo is Japan’s favorite mayonnaise and salad dressing brand and you’ll pretty much find it in every Japanese household. It’s rich, yet light, and incredibly delicious. Kewpie mayo is so beloved in Japan that they even had specialty kewpie mayo cafes to celebrate all things kewpie. You can find it, in its signature squeeze bottle with a red flip top at most grocery stores these days, in the Asian aisle. The mayo itself is a bit more golden that your standard mayo and much more creamy and luxurious. Kewpie mayo is made with just egg yolks – as opposed to regular mayo which is made with whole eggs – and rice vinegar for a hint of sweetness. It’s absolutely addictive and we always have a bottle in the fridge.

Where to buy kewpie mayo

They sell kewpie mayo at all Asian grocery stores, in some major grocery stores, and online

Kewpie mayo substitutes

If you can’t find kewpie mayo but you absolutely want to make this ramen, you can sub regular mayo and add a bit of rice vinegar and sugar.

Kewpie mayo recipe:

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (Hellmann’s/Best Foods)
  • 3/4 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
Mix everything together until smooth.

The best instant ramen to use

For this particular ramen hack, you’ll want an instant ramen that comes with a soup base. Go for a Japanese brand if you can: Sapporo Ichiban makes a huge variety of flavors that are widely available. Nissan (Top Ramen), the original creator of instant ramen, is really popular too. The original ramen mayo hack was made with Nissan Sapporo miso ramen, so if you can find that, you’re golden. It’s super common so you can probably find it quite easily and like most instant ramen it’s pretty cheap too.

Toppings for instant ramen

Everyone knows that toppings make ramen even better. Add some to make your bowl even more luxurious:
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • thinly sliced scallions
  • ramen egg
  • veggies
  • seaweed
  • corn
  • cheese
  • kimchi
  • protein: tofu, sliced chicken, ground meats, sausage, bacon

Things to make with kewpie mayo

Now that you have a bottle of kewpie mayo, here are some other things you can make!

Mayo Ramen

Up your instant ramen game with a luxurious and creamy broth that tastes just like tonkotsu

  • 1 package instant ramen (miso or tonkotsu flavor preferred)
  • 1-2 tbsp kewpie mayo
  • 1 clove garlic (crushed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp green onions (sliced)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the seasoning packet from the instant ramen with the kewpie mayo, garlic, and egg until it comes together in a thick sauce.



  2. Cook the instant ramen in 2 cups of water according to the cook time on the package.



  3. Carefully pour the hot noodle water into the sauce, whisking as you go so it emulsifiers into a smooth, thick broth.



  4. Add the noodles to the soup, top with scallions and toasted sesame seeds and enjoy hot!



Because all instant ramen is different, estimated nutrition does not include ramen. Please add to the ones on your ramen package.

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basics easy Vegetarian Recipes

I Am... Kale Salad

I could eat this kale salad all day, every day. Kale might just be my all time favorite leafy green. It’s incredibly versatile - you can sauté it, bake it, roast it, stew it, salad it, you name it, kale can do it. This is my go-to kale salad: it’s garlicky, full of bright lemon, and lots of parm. It goes with practically anything and is hearty enough to eat on its own. If I had to choose only one salad for the rest of my life, it would be this kale salad. I love it because it’s easy to make and keeps incredibly well in the fridge. Hello salad meal prep! Buy several bunches of kale, make a huge batch of salad and live the kale life.

How to make kale salad

  1. Prep the leaves - wash, strip, and shred the kale.
  2. Make the dressing - in a small bowl, whisk together extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, finely grated parm, and salt and pepper.
  3. Dress the kale - add the kale and the dressing to a large container with a lid. Pop the lid on and shake everything up until all the leaves are evenly coated.
  4. Eat with abandon - make it rain extra cheese and eat ALL THE KALE.

Kale salad ingredients

  • kale - dinosaur kale is my top pick for kale. I love how crisp and silky dinosaur kale leaves are and it’s just the right amount of hearty and earthy.
  • olive oil - go for a nice and grassy cold pressed extra virgin olive oil that you like the flavor of. This one isn't anything fancy but it's one of our go-tos.
  • lemon - we need the tart acid of a lemon to wake up all the other flavors in this salad. I like adding lemon zest too for extra brightness and a bit of color. If you’re going to zest, just remember to do it before you juice your lemon.
  • parm - fresh finely grated parm adds saltiness and major cheesy, nutty umami. I love finishing with a shower of extra parm because, why not!
  • garlic - there’s raw garlic in this dressing, but the acid from the lemon juice and the olive oil helps mellow it out while still letting it have a bit of a bite. If you love caesar salad, this garlic-lemon-parm dressing will definitely give you caesar salad vibes.
  • salt and freshly ground pepper - don’t forget s&p, they make everything sing.

What kind of kale for kale salad

You can use curly or dino kale for this kale salad, but I prefer dino kale for it’s ease of preparation (you can strip the stems out super easily) and how pretty it its when you shred it.

Curly Kale

This is the most common kind of kale that you set at the grocery store. It’s a deep green with frilly edges and long, thick stems.

Lacinato aka Dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale

This is my favorite kind of kale! Slender and dark green with slim stems and flat-ish leaves that are bumpy and puckered.

How to prep kale

  1. Wash - give the leaves a good wash and shake off any excess water.
  2. Strip - kale stems are super tough and fibrous. Slice them away with a knife or rip the leaves off by running your fingers along the ribs.
  3. Massage or shred - either tear the leaves into large pieces and massage, or use a knife to cut into thin shreds.

Why massage kale?

If you’re a kale salad fan, you’ve probably heard of massaged kale salad. Maybe you’re thinking, what the heck? Does kale enjoy spa days where they get hot stone massages and fancy fruit water? As fun as it is imagining kale going to the spa, massaged kale isn’t quite as cute. Literally, massaged kale is kale that has been massaged (or marinated) with oil or lemon. Because kale is a tougher green, the act of using your fingertips to rub it with oil (fat) and lemon (acid) helps break it down so that it becomes silky and tender, yet crisp. Massaging breaks down the tough, fibrous cellulose and also has the added bonus of really dressing the leaves so they become extra tasty and flavorful.

When to massage kale

If you’re making a kale salad with whole leaves, not thinly sliced ones like this salad, you’ll probably want to give your leaves a quick massage.

Massaging alternatives

The easiest way to massage and dress kale is to pop everything into a giant container with a lid. Drizzle on the dressing, put the lid on and shake shake shake. The shaking will massage and dress the kale at the same time and you don’t have to use your hands to massage. Bonus, you can just leave the salad in the container and pop it in your fridge, if you’re making kale salad for meal prep. These containers fit this recipe perfectly. I saw Mike dressing salad like this one day and ever since, it’s been a no-brainer, my all time fave way to dress salads!

Kale salad add ins

This salad is immensely customizable, try adding:
  • nuts and seeds - toasted pecans, slivered almonds, walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds
  • fruit - apples, pears, peaches, oranges, strawberries, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, golden raisins
  • protein - eggs, sliced steak, sliced pork, chicken, tofu other vegetables - diced onions, sliced radishes, shredded carrots, diced broccoli, tomatoes, avocado
  • grains - quinoa, wild rice, farro, barley, chickpeas

What to serve with kale salad

I often just eat kale salad as a whole meal, but if you’re looking for mains, try these:

And if you prefer your kale cooked, try this recipes:

Happy kale-ing! xoxo steph

The Best Kale Salad

Kale-ing it!

  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (finely grated, plus extra for topping)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (extra virgin preferred)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • lemon zest (from the lemon before you juice it)
  • 2 bunches kale (lacinato kale preferred, about 8 cups finely chopped)
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the kale and let sit while you prepare the kale.



  2. Prepare the kale: Give the leaves a good wash and shake off any excess water, then slice the stems away with a knife or rip the leaves off by running your fingers along the ribs. Finally, cut into 1/4" thin strips.



  3. Pop the kale strips and the dressing into a plastic box with a lid and shake well.



  4. Top with extra Parmigiano-Reggiano and enjoy!



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basics beef recipes easy entertaining

I Am... The Ultimate Guide to Prime Rib

There is nothing more impressive than a slow roasted, deeply crusted, perfectly cooked prime rib landing squarely in the center of a full dinner table. Prime rib might be the perfect cut of beef. It’s got a little something for everyone. Intense well-marbled fat forward hits for the fat-is-flavor stans (that’s me). Supple, rosy tender parts for the filet/tenderloin fans. Savory beefiness in bulk for the ribeye-is-king crowd. And, last but not least, a deep dark crust for those guys who need to insert Maillard reaction into any conversation involving beef. Prime rib’s reputation has taken a hit in recent decades, but as always, the old ways are the best way. Prime rib is not only the tastiest cut of beef you can buy, it’s also one of the cheapest. In this ultimate guide to prime rib, I want to convince you to bring prime rib roasts back into your life, all year round, at home where it’s best.

What is prime rib

Prime rib is one of the largest cuts of beef you can buy as a normal home cook. You buy it as a roast made of a full rack of 7 ribs. These ribs are commonly spoken of as being from ribs #6-#12. The best way to think of a prime rib is a super high quality tomahawk or bone-in ribeye, stretched out to a foot thick. It’s true: the meat that comes in a prime rib roast is the same stuff you make ribeyes and tomahawks from.

Prime rib roast

Did I say stretched out a foot thick? Yes, a prime rib can actually be closer to 24 inches thick, although you don’t have to opt for the full rack. Any good butcher will cut you whatever thickness you need. If you can, you should go for broke and get the full rack because it’s way cheaper than individual steaks of the same quality. A prime rib roast can be split into steaks if you’re so inclined. Even if you are only cooking for 2 people, you can buy a whole rack for cheap and split it up into seven 2” thick steaks for much less than you’d pay if you'd just bought steaks. But, the whole point of a prime rib is to roast it to perfection, with a deep dark crust and tender, rosy pink insides, so I recommend you grab a 2-4 rib segment (or more if you want) and go to roasting town. Roasting is way easier than cooking 7 steaks and so much more impressive too. Even better, with the right tools, it's easy to do it perfectly, every time.

How to make the best prime rib

Before we talk about anything else: to make the best prime rib you can make, use a meat thermometer. Below are some good formulas and ballpark techniques, but if you’re cooking a $100+ piece of meat, you should consider investing in a good meat thermometer. Every oven is different and every roast goes in the oven at a different temp, so a meat thermometer is essential. The best kind for this sort of thing is a leave in meat probe that beeps you when the target temp is heat. The probe your oven probably comes with is a great option too. But even if all you have is an instant read thermapen, it’s better than nothing.

Parts of a prime rib

Prime rib looks like just one big homogenous hunk of meat, but it’s three delicious parts with their own taste and tenderness:
  1. Spinalis dorsi aka rib cap: This is considered a well kept chef’s secret: the greatest cut of steak, bar none. All the complexity of a flank steak, the fatty marbling of a ribeye, and the tenderness of a filet, in one steak. This cut is separated from the main body of the prime rib by a large layer of fat. Back when people vilified fat, spinalis dorsi used to be cut off and saved for the butcher or kitchen so that the ribeye steak could be presented “cleaner”. These days, especially if you order a bone-in ribeye, they just leave it on. It really is the best part.
  2. Ribeye: This is the main body of a slice of prime rib. It’s literally the same as a ribeye steak. It will be well marbled, tender, and complex tasting.
  3. Iliocostalis: Some people liken this to a long thin tenderloin. It’s also called the lip or nose of a prime rib. It doesn’t have a good reputation because it’s often smaller, fattier, and not very toothsome, but I think it’s an intensely beefy and tender cut because it sits right next to the bone. Iliocostalis used to be cut off and not served with the prime rib, as it wasn’t considered ‘prime’ enough, but these days, most butchers will leave it on for you to decide on. I recommend you leave it on.

Why make prime rib?

But why go to all this trouble instead of just getting seven steaks? Because, prime rib is insanely delicious. It’s basically the cheapest bone-in ribeye you can get at an extremely high quality for price ratio. Done right, it’s easy, forgiving, impressive, and satisfying. The best part is the leftovers can be reheated as some of the best steaks you’ll ever have.

Prime rib cooking time

If you are cooking for a hungry house and want to know how to plan on timing such a large roast to be just ready for dinner, there’s a super easy formula based on the doneless you prefer. This isn’t one of those pro-chef-speed formulas that no one can realistically achieve, it’s pretty loose with the times so you can depend on it, even if you are relaxing, drinking wine, and consulting your phone every so often for the next step of the recipe. That said, using a meat thermometer is vitally important. And, so is planning on serving appetizers and drinks before the main course for anyone who is extra hungry. The formula is simple - assume:
  • 2 hours for temper
  • 30 mins for searing
  • 15-30 minutes per pound (in 5 minute increments - medium rare is 20 minutes/pound)
  • 30 minute rest
The prime rib that I made here was about 6 lbs, which means it was a 2 hour cook time plus 3 hours for everything else. It squarely hit the 5 hour mark from taking it out of the fridge to the first bite.

Prime rib vs steaks

Why should you make prime rib instead of steak or some other cut? Because, it’s cheaper than steak by two- to three- times, it’s easier to make, and there’s nothing more impressive than a giant roast of beef landing squarely center on the dinner table. The advantage of steak is that you can cater to different doneness preferences, but there are so many disadvantages, such as steaks being more expensive, needing more pans (aka more dishwashing), and being so much messier, smokier, and splatterier. Besides, you can cut down a prime rib into steaks before or after cooking. You can't glue steaks together into a prime rib roast. Overall, if you can justify the initial outlay, prime rib beats steak every time.

A smaller prime rib

In fact, prime rib is such a good competitor to steak that I think it’s worth it to consider a smaller prime rib, even if its just for two of you, or even if you live alone. Ask your butcher to cut you 2-3 ribs worth. Where I live, it’s half the cost vs bone in ribeye, and my butcher sells even two ribs, which is just two bone in ribeyes stuck to each other. When you are buying by the rib, you may get choice of which rib bones you want. The “front” is rib number 12, which is very tender with a large ribeye steak, and the “back” is rib number 6, which is more marbled and complex. It’s your choice based on what you like. In these pics, I asked for bones 9 and 10, which is a nice mix of tender and marbled.

Bone in or boneless or tied back

When you ask for prime rib, you might be presented with one of three options: bone-in, boneless, or the bones cut off, but tied back on. Each has its pros and cons:
  • Bone in: The most flavor, but also the hardest to handle. Besides the weight, you can only cut slices between the bones. If you don’t intend to use the bones, these will also be more expensive, because while they cost less per pound, you still pay for the bones. They have the most flavor by far.
  • Boneless: The easiest to handle, the easiest to cook, but a little less impressive. Boneless is great if you’re a crust fan (who isn’t?) because you get maximum crust without any pesky bones getting in the way. You’re also able to slice it to any thickness you like. To me though, this option doesn’t really feel like prime rib, just fancy roast beef.
  • Bones cut off and tied back on: This might actually be the version you’re most likely to run into depending on where you live. This one seems to sells the best, and some internet sources say it’s great for seasoning the meat because you can get under the bone. To me though, it’s the worst of both worlds: you don’t get the extra browning of boneless or the flavor of bone in. I’ve never run into these, but if one magically appeared in my kitchen, I would probably save the bones for beef rib pho and treat the rest as a boneless prime rib.
I’m sure it doesn’t need saying, but I prefer bone-in the most. For me, without bones, it’s not prime rib, it’s just prime.

Where to buy prime rib

Because it’s not a super popular cut and because of how expensive it is, outside of Christmas and Thanksgiving, and maybe Easter, you may have a hard time finding prime rib. The best place to get a prime rib, by far, is your local butcher. Not only will they often have it because they have the whole cow in stock, they'll be more willing to cut you exactly as much as you need. Your other option is a special order from a grocery store’s meat department. I checked with whole foods and they said they were able to get me a prime rib the next day, in the size I wanted. I went with the local butcher, but whole foods was actually cheaper. You can also get some awesome (and awesomely expensive) prime ribs from online meat purveyors like snake river farms or costco. If you’re lucky, you might find some prime rib locally at costco in its appropriately named prime beef department - just ask.

How to choose the best prime rib

Believe it or not, prime rib was named before the USDA settled on its grades. Depending on who you believe, prime rib is either called prime because it’s the best cut of beef, or because its a primal cut. Either way, prime rib is not always USDA prime. The difference between a USDA prime and a USDA choice (the second best) prime rib is between 25%-50% more money. Beyond that, if you go to a good butcher, you also have options for organic, dry aged, grass fed, wagyu, and more. So how do you choose a good prime rib? For me, I don’t worry too much about anything other than marbling. Decent marbling is usually a sign of a happy animal, and that means a good tasting cut of meat. Grass vs corn fed is a matter of opinion, and many people don’t like the extra floral and complex taste of grass fed beef, but I don't think there's anyone who doesn’t like tender, well marbled beef.

How to cook prime rib

Here's how to cook a perfect prime rib, every time:
  1. Preheat your oven to 450ºF.
  2. Brown the two sides in a cast iron pan: optional, but highly recommended, especially when you have a smaller roast that's easier to handle. The smoke detector may possibly go off.
  3. Brush with butter or oil, then sear in the oven at 450ºF for 15 minutes.
  4. Set the oven to 200ºF and open the oven door for about 15 minutes, or until the oven temp drops to 200ºF if you have an oven thermometer. The smoke detector may possibly go off, again.
  5. Cook for 20 mins per pound for medium rare, or until your meat thermometer goes off. Temperatures are below.
  6. Rest for 30 mins, then slice and enjoy!

Trimming

How much fat you need to trim away depends on how much you love fat. If you trim all the fat away from the edges, you’ll get a much better sear, but that fat is super flavorful and tender - nothing like the tough chewy fat you might encounter from lesser cuts. My butcher left the fat cap on the spinalis, so I removed and froze that, but left the fat on the iliocostalis for extra flavor.

Do you really need to temper the meat?

Unfortunately, yes, you do really need to temper the meat. Tempering the meat – which is really just a fancy way of saying "leave it out on the counter to come to room temp" – equalizes the temperature of the meat so it cooks evenly, plus it lowers cooking times. You can also use this time to briefly dry-brine the meat (below). For a smaller 2-3 bone roast, you can get away with 2 hours of tempering. For a full rack, you'll want to temper at least 4 hours.

Dry brining

Dry brining is just liberally seasoning the meat and leaving it in the fridge for 12hrs to 4 days to let the salt penetrate the meat. This process is supposed to pull out the excess moisture from the beef for a more tender and tasty piece of meat. I'm not sure I personally agree with this. Salt never penetrates that much in a dry brine. I season the steak during the time it takes to temper the meat and that seems to work for me. But if you have a day or two before you want to cook the beef, it doesn’t hurt. Just lightly sprinkle some salt all around the roast, then place on something to catch the juices. Loosely cover and refrigerate until you are ready to use.

Prime rib temperatures

Prime rib, like all roasts, continues cooking after it leaves the oven while the thermal energy redistributes. For me, this seems to be a 6 degree rise, but your results may vary based on how warm your house is. Basically, 6 degrees is a pretty good estimate, however, so you want to take your roast out 6 degrees before your target temperature. For a quick reference, my target temps are below.
  • Rare: 125ºF - remove at 119ºF
  • Medium-rare: 130ºF - remove at 124ºF
  • Medium: 135ºF - remove at 129ºF
  • Medium-well: 140ºF - remove at 134ºF
  • Well done: 🤷‍♂️

The importance of a meat thermometer

A meat thermometer is essential. That old adage about the feel of your ear or touching your thumbs to fingers? Not for important cuts of meat, in my opinion. I recommend an oven probe; one that beeps when the target temp is hit. They can be really cheap, extremely expensive wireless app driven, or something in between. If you have an instant read or thermocouple style, be sure to check often that the roast doesn’t get overcooked.

Sauces

I don't do a sauce or a rub with my prime rib. Because it’s such a large piece of meat, most likely you will not get a lot of extra flavor into the inside – just its core beefiness. For some people that’s more than fine. The big savory beefy taste is more than enough, especially when paired with some nice flaky sea salt. For others, steak sauces are always welcome. If you’re in that crowd, you should check out our steak sauce roundup.

How to reheat prime rib

You’ll probably likely have some leftover prime rib. You’ll also most likely hear that you should reheat the leftovers in a low oven. I disagree: by far the best way to reheat prime rib leftovers is to cut the remaining pieces into 2” thick steaks (if you can). Liberally season any cut sides, then sear 2 minutes per side in a cast iron pan. It makes for amazing steaks.

Smoke alarms

Depending on many factors – if your smoke alarm is close to your kitchen, if your oven is less clean, or if your hood fan is a little weaker – you should be prepared for your smoke detector to go off during the browning stages. Be sure to check if your smoke detector has a hush button. Or, have a helpful assistant standing by with a large towel ready to fan when you first drop the roast into the cast iron pan to brown and again when you open the 500ºF oven door. And that's it, perfect prime rib, every time. I hope you enjoyed this guide and you're inspired to make a giant, super satisfying chunk of meaty goodness soon! -Mike  

Prime Rib Recipe

Everything you ever wanted to know about prime rib: what it is, how to buy the best one, and how to cook a prime rib perfectly, every time.

  • 6 lb prime rib (2 ribs, see notes)
  • 1 tbsp butter (melted, unsalted preferred)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  1. Liberally season your roast with kosher salt and let temper on the counter for 2-4 hours. Near the end of the temper time, preheat your oven to 450ºF



  2. Optional: Sear the sides in a cast iron pan with a generous amount of oil. Combine the butter and pepper together, then brush onto the roast. Roast for 15 mins at 450ºF.



  3. Set the oven to 200ºF. Allow oven to cool down with the door open for 15 minutes (or until the oven temp hits 200ºF, then close door and cook at 200ºF until the internal temp hits your target temp (119ºF for medium rare, see post), or approx 2 hours.



  4. Remove and rest for 30 minutes before slicing. Serve with sauces of choice, enjoy!



Bones are assumed to weigh 9oz

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baking

I Am... Hot Cross Buns

Making homemade hot cross buns is an accomplishment, one that you can do, easier than you think! These deliciously cinnamon spiced yeasted buns are buttery and plush, full of dried cherries and melty white chocolate. The perfect twist on an Easter treat. Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny two a penny hot cross buns! I’m sure you know the song - it always always gets stuck in my head around Easter. There’s a local bakery chain in town that specializes in hot cross buns and back in the day when samples were a thing, I would always choose the hot cross bun sample when we were buying bread. Their buns are so popular that they sell them year round and I love them so much. Of course it’s super simple to head to the bakery to buy hot cross buns (or even order them online) but this year I thought I’d bake my own, based off of my favorite soft and fluffy dinner roll recipe. There’s something so satisfying about the smell of bread filling up the kitchen. The sweet sent of yeasted dough and cinnamon makes me feel super homey.

What are hot cross buns?

Hot cross buns are an Easter classic. Little yeasted sweet buns with crosses on top date back to the 12th century and they were considered a treat marking the end of Lent, eaten on Good Friday. Nowadays, they are available year round, but are especially enjoyed around Easter.

How do hot cross buns taste?

Classically, hot cross buns are a soft, sweet, spiced yeasted bun usually made with dried fruit like raisins, sultanas, or currents. They’re soft, squishy, and not too sweet. Think of a slightly sweeter dinner roll studded with dried fruit. This particular bun is super soft and fluffy, scented with cinnamon and dotted with melty white chocolate and sweet dried cherries. The plush cinnamon buns remind me of cinnamon rolls, but not as sweet. They’re glazed with a bit of apricot jam for shine and finished with a melted white chocolate cross. If you like sweet dried cherries, caramelized white chocolate, soft and fluffy buttery buns, and cinnamon, you’ll love these hot cross buns!

How to make hot cross buns

If you’ve made dinner rolls, you’re just one step away from making hot cross buns. Here’s how you do it:
  1. Sprinkle yeast on to warm water and let foam.
  2. Mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
  3. Stir the yeast, along with egg, into the flour mix until everything comes together into a ball of dough.
  4. Add the butter to the dough and knead the dough until smooth.
  5. Add the dried cherries and chocolate then pop the dough into a lightly oiled bowl so it can proof for an hour.
  6. After the dough is puffy and proofed, tip it out onto a floured surface and divide into 9 balls, place in a pan, and let proof until doubled.
  7. Bake until golden then pipe on some chocolate crosses. Enjoy!
This recipe perfectly fits an 8x8 pan. This one is my favorite.

Hot cross buns ingredients

These buns have pretty standard pantry ingredients: yeast, bread flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, egg, butter, dried cherries, and white chocolate chips.

Bread flour

Bread flour is the key to fluffy, soft, and chewy buns. You might be tempted to just use all purpose, and well, you can do that, but if you use bread flour your rolls will be soft and fluffy with just the right amount of chew. Bread flour has a higher protein content than regular all purpose – the resulting dough has more gluten in it which helps the rolls stay soft and chewy.

Yeast

This recipe uses active dry yeast which needs to be dissolved in a bit of liquid before using – in this case we’ll sprinkle it on to some warm water. If you have instant yeast, you can use it too, there won’t be much of a difference; your rolls might rise a bit faster, depending how warm your kitchen is.

Dried cherries and white chocolate

Dried cherries add some sweet tartness that pairs exceptionally well with white chocolate and cinnamon. You can sub in your favorite dried fruits, more ideas below!

Variations

You can easily customize these buns with your favorite add-ins.
  • Classic: sultanas, raisins or currents
  • Orange cranberry: dried cranberries and orange zest
  • Blueberry dark chocolate: dried blueberries and dark chocolate
  • Triple chocolate: a mix of white, dark, and milk chocolate
  • Apple cinnamon: dried apples and extra cinnamon
  • Strawberry matcha: dried strawberries, switch out the cinnamon for matcha

If you love soft and fluffy bread, try these recipes:

 

Hot Cross Buns

These hot cross buns studded with plump dried cherries and luscious melty chunks of white chocolate are incredibly soft, fluffy, and delicious.

  • 120 g water (warm, ~1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 250 g bread flour (~1 3/4 cups)
  • 30 g sugar (~2 tbsp)
  • 5 g cinnamon (~2 tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 large egg (lightly beaten, see notes)
  • 25 g butter (room temp, ~2tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate (chopped, plus extra for crosses)
  • 1 tbsp apricot jam
  1. Sprinkle the yeast onto the warm water and let proof. Meanwhile, in the bowl of your mixer, stir together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.



  2. Whisk the egg into the foamy yeast mixture, then add the mix to the dry ingredients. Use a wooden spoon to stir together until everything comes into a ball. Switch to a dough hook and knead on low until the dough pulls away cleanly from the sides.



  3. Add the room temperature butter and continue to knead on medium-low, for about 10 minutes, until the dough reaches the windowpane stage – take a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and stretch it out between your fingers and thumbs. If you can stretch it without the dough breaking and you can see through the stretched dough, you’re good to go. If the dough doesn’t windowpane, knead a bit longer. Knead in the cherries and white chocolate.



  4. Transfer the dough to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot and let rise until doubled, 1-2 hours; dough that has mix-ins takes longer to rise.



  5. Take the dough and tip it out onto a lightly floured surface. Punch down lightly then divide into 9 equal portions. If you want to be precise, use your kitchen scale to see how much your dough weighs, then divide by 9. Shape the portions of dough by bring the edges towards the center and tucking into balls. Lightly grease a 8×8 baking pan and evenly space the buns. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.



  6. Heat the oven to 350°F. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool slightly. Stir the apricot jam with 2 teaspoons of hot water and gently brush on top of the buns. Pipe on crosses with melted white chocolate and enjoy!



For 1/2 large egg, whisk a whole egg in a small bowl, then measure out half of the weight or just use 1 1/2 tablespoons of the whisked egg.

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cakes

I Am... My Perfect Carrot Cake Recipe

This carrot cake recipe is perfect: just the right amount of spice, with a super moist and tight velvety crumb and the smoothest whipped mascarpone cheesecake frosting. Soft and lush with just the right amount of warming cinnamon spice and a zing from freshly grated ginger. This carrot cake is dense, tender, and fluffy in all the right ways. I love carrot cake with a passion. It’s always been one of my favorite kind of cakes, ever since I was small. I was obsessed with carrots because I wanted to be a bunny and for a long time carrots were the only thing I ate. Luckily, carrot cake fit perfectly into my carrot diet. Carrot cake is one of those classic cakes that often gets passed over in favor of more flashier counterpoints: dense fudge chocolate cake, perfectly fluffy white cake, and party-forward funfetti. But to me, carrot cake will remain a forever favorite. Sweet and plush, soft and tender, and so fluffy. I feel like I could eat carrot cake forever and ever. This particular carrot cake recipe is extra special because of two things: fresh ginger and a mascarpone cheesecake frosting that is out of this world.

What is carrot cake

Carrot cake is cake, made with carrots! Typically, carrot cake is made with shredded carrots mixed into a spiced batter, sometimes studded with nuts, fruit, and coconut. They’re almost always paired with a cream cheese frosting. Since carrots are naturally sweet and quite juicy, it makes a lot of sense that they’re used in cake. They lend moisture, sweetness, and texture to cake.

Why you should make this carrot cake recipe

  • it has carrots in it so you can consider it health food!
  • it’s one of the easiest cakes to make, very forgiving and perfect for beginner bakers
  • you don’t need a mixer, just two bowls
  • it’s perfectly sized: just a 8 inch sheet cake, practically snack size
  • you want to celebrate spring or Easter
  • carrot cake is love, especially when it’s frosted with cream cheese

Why this is the best carrot cake recipe

This is the carrot cake I’ve been making for ages. It’s essentially the carrot cake (minus the frosting) from Smitten Kitchen, with just a few tiny tweaks: I leave out the nutmeg, swap the ground ginger for freshly grated, switch out the granulated sugar for a mix of brown sugar and granulated sugar, and leave out the raisins and walnuts. For me, the best carrot cake is dense yet fluffy, plush and velvety, full of carrot sweetness with nothing to detract from the crumb. Coconut, raisins, pineapples, walnuts can only dream of being in this cake. This is a pure and simple carrot cake, the kind your fork will glide through without hitting anything on the way down.

Carrot cake frosting

Carrot cake must always be paired with a cream cheese frosting and this is my favorite, a cheesecake/tiramisu inspired frosting with mascarpone in it for an extra bit of luxury. The frosting is not too sweet, just a perfect pillow of tangy, lightly sweetened cream cheese, not unlike the whipped layers you find in tiramisu.

Decorating

Lastly, part of the charm of this cake is that it’s a simple 8 inch sheet cake. It’s the perfect size for smaller gatherings and because it’s a sheet cake, it’s super easy to decorate - just use an offset spatula to swoosh the frosting on top. I love sheet cakes because they are so much less finicky than layered cakes. They feel more like an everyday cake, one that you can whip up and having just sitting around, waiting for you to cut a slice for your afternoon coffee treat.

How to make carrot cake

  1. Dry ingredients. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, then set it aside.
  2. Wet ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together oil and sugar until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to incorporate completely.
  3. Combine. Stir the flour mix in until just combined, then stir in the carrots and freshly grated ginger.
  4. Bake. Pour the batter into a lightly buttered parchment paper lined 8 inch square cake pan and bake until a tester comes out clean.
  5. Cool and make the frosting. Let the cake cool completely. While the cake is cooling, make the frosting by whipping up heavy cream, sugar, cream cheese, and mascarpone.
  6. Frost. Top the carrot cake with the frosting and use an offset spatula to smooth it out. Slice and enjoy!

Ingredients

The ingredients in this carrot cake are pretty standard: all purpose flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, carrots, and fresh ginger. Just a couple notes to make this the best carrot cake possible:

Carrots

I like to peel and grate whole carrots for carrot cake. Freshly grated carrots are usually a lot more juicy and moist compared to shredded carrots that you buy at the grocery store. If you want your carrot cake to be absolutely super, use the fine side of your grater for a very soft and tender batter. You can use a food processor or the coarse side of a grater as well but the carrot shreds will be a bit thicker. The key to this carrot cake is fine carrot shreds that are super delicate.

Oil

Maybe you’re wondering why this is an oil based cake vs a butter based cake. The answer is moistness! Because oil is liquid at room temp whereas butter can be solid, oil based cakes tend to be more moist and tender. Oil cakes also have a more even tender crumb thanks to the fact that it’s easier to mix oil into your cake batter. My preference for a neutral baking oil is canola, safflower, grapeseed, or sunflower.

Brown and granulated sugar

A mix of brown and granulated sugar means the best of both worlds: granulated sugar for sweetness and brown sugar for rich caramelized flavors and moisture.

Cinnamon

Most people don’t think of cinnamon when they think of carrot cake but almost all carrot cakes are spiced! The warming spices of cinnamon pair perfectly with the sweetness of carrots.

Fresh ginger

Ginger and cinnamon often go hand in hand, especially in baked goods (think gingerbread or ginger snaps). Most carrot cakes use powdered ginger but I like the freshness and zing of freshly grated ginger. It’ll add a little bit of extra oomph to your cake that will make you coming back for slice and slice.

How to decorate carrot cake

I like to keep it simple – one of the bonuses of making a sheet cake is how easy it is to frost, just go for the top, no need to frost and layer. Simply use an offset spatula to swoosh the frosting on top. I am in love with Japanese deco roll cakes where they pipe tiny patterns into cake batter and I was inspired by that to pipe out tiny little carrots to dot the surface of the cake. I made a quick royal icing but you can also use candy melts or just color the cream cheese frosting too.

If you’re looking for other Easter inspired eats, please try these!

Carrot cake is the happiest of all the cakes! I hope you make this cake because you deserve it! xoxo steph  

Carrot Cake Recipe

This carrot cake recipe is perfect.

Carrot Cake

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 10 tbsp canola oil (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 cups carrots (grated and peeled, about 2-3 medium carrots)
  • 1 tsp ginger (fresh grated)

Frosting

  • 4 oz cream cheese (room temp)
  • 4 oz marscapone (room temp)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and line a 8 inch square cake pan with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. Set aside.



  2. Whisk the oil and sugars together in a bowl until well blended. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time until incorporated.



  3. Stir in the flour mixture until just blended, then stir in the carrots and grated ginger.



  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a tester in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack, peel off the parchment paper and cool completely.



  5. Make the frosting by whip together all the frosting ingredients in a stand mixer until full and fluffy. Frost your cake and enjoy!



If you want to make this into a round cake, you can bake off two 6 inch rounds and stack them for a classic layered carrot cake or bake into a single a 8 or 9 inch round.

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italian food beef recipes dinner & chill easy Instant Pot Recipes

I Am... The Easiest Ever Osso Buco

The easiest way to make super tender, fall apart beefy bone marrow-y osso buco ever. How often do you make it past the pasta part of the menu at a good Italian restaurant? We usually never do. But if I see osso buco on the menu, I make room to order it. How can you not love a slow braised, melt in your mouth beef shank in a beefy, bone marrow-y tomato sauce? Sometimes you even get a little spoon for the bone marrow. If its on the menu, you can bet it's usually the best thing on the menu. Osso buco is even often served with pasta, so win-win! But better yet, you can make it at home in an hour on the instant pot for 1/4 of the cost. It tastes like you slaved in the kitchen for hours. It's perfect for special occasions but easy enough that you could have it on any given weeknight too.

What is osso buco?

Osso buco is an Italian dish of veal shank braised for a really long time in a white wine bone marrow infused sauce originally from Lombard. The long braise time melts away the connective tissues in the shank and leaves you with melt-in-your-mouth fall apart meat. It tastes amazing because the shank cut is a complex muscle full of connective tissue that just falls apart. Because it's slow braised on the bone (Osso Buco means bone with a hole), the bone marrow infuses the sauce and gives it an incredible richness and flavor. Historically, this recipe doesn't include tomatoes because they're a new world crop, but these days, pretty much everyone makes it with tomatoes. This version we're making today takes it up another notch with fresher tasting passata tomato sauce instead of the classic canned tomatoes.

How to make osso buco

  1. Brown your beef shanks well on both sides. I use the Instant Pot saute setting on high for 2-3 minutes on each side with a splatter shield on top, and honestly it works better than doing it on the stovetop. The high sides of the instant pot mean much less splatter and mess.
  2. Cook your aromatics. Transfer the beef shank to a plate or something else to catch the juices, then add the aromatics and cook until they are soft and translucent, about 2 minutes.
  3. Deglaze with wine. Add the wine and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the instant pot with a wooden spoon or spatula. Let the wine cook until it is reduced by half, at least 2 minutes.
  4. Braise. Add the beef shank, passata, and herbs to the instant pot and braise on high for 1 hour. You'll be rewarded with the most tender, fall-apart meat ever.

Instant pot osso buco

Osso buco is classically a braise-it-all-day affair, but, if there’s one thing the Instant Pot (or any pressure cooker) excels at, it’s crushing braise times for these kinds of dishes. It's by far the best option, in my opinion. If you don’t have one, you can make this by  simmering until soft on the stove - it’ll just take longer, about 4-6 hours. You can also brown the meat and aromatics in an oven proof pan or dutch oven, then transferring to a 250-300ºF oven for 4-6 hours. If you go either stovetop or oven, check back every so often to make sure your liquid isn't too low.

Crock pot osso buco (or stovetop too)

But, what if you don't have an instant pot handy? The next best thing in that case is a crock pot. The crockpot can't get hot enough to brown the the meat, so you'll still need to do a little cooking on the stovetop, but it's just as easy:
  1. Brown your meats in a large skillet over high heat. Transfer to crock pot and set it to high.
  2. Cook the vegetables into the same skillet until soft, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add wine and reduce, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add passata. Once it's warmed, transfer everything to the crock pot and slow cook for 5-6 hours.
  5. Reduce the heat to low after about 2 hours.
  6. Enjoy!
If you don't have a crock pot, you can simmer in the skillet - just add the shanks back in, partially cover, and set it to your lowest heat. Check back every hour and add water or passata as needed.

The dinner and chill special

Traditionally there a lot more ingredients and steps to this dish, but here I’ve pared it down to the bare minimum and let the flavors speak for themselves. Before writing this recipe, Steph and I went to a really well regarded Italian restaurant. We tried their 24 hour osso buco made with veal shank and extra marrow bones. It was amazing, but this one compares favorably - and is way easier. The biggest step I removed is the flour dredge. Usually people dredge the shank in flour and use that to both brown the meat and thicken the sauce. I don’t think this needs it, the bone marrow thickened sauce is more than enough, and flour is always messy. If you want to do that though, it will add a little extra body to both your meat and sauce.

Veal vs beef shank

The default meat choice for osso buco is veal, but I've found it's pretty hard to find veal shank. It's worth looking for if you want to stay true to the original. You should be able to find it at your neighborhood butcher shop or major supermarket. Beef tastes as good (if not better) though and is far easier to find. It's even often cheaper, even though veal should technically be a lower-cost meat.

Osso buco ingredients

  • Shank is an inexpensive cut that should be easy to find. If you can’t get it at your local grocery store, whole foods will carry beef (but not veal) shanks.
  • Herbs to make a bouquet garni. I just threw in a sprig of oregano because that’s what we had and it was great. If you have bay leaves, fresh thyme, fresh Italian parsley, etc on hand, feel free to throw a little in. If not, just skip - the recipe doesn't need it.
  • Passata is an uncooked strained tomato puree. I chose passata because the fresh tomato flavor really brightens up the dish, but if you have a can of regular old crushed tomatoes around, feel free to use that.
  • White wine. Wine adds a complexity and authenticity to the dish that is impossible to replace. If you need to be alcohol-free, you can switch it out for sodium free chicken stock.

How do you serve it?

Osso Buco is typically served with risotto, gnocchi, or pasta, but we like ours with bread or on its own. If you plan on eating this on its own, you might want to double the recipe to get enough meat for 2. If you wanted to go really over the top (say for an at home Valentines dinner) a tiny bit of caviar makes this one of the most extra surf and turfs you could make at home. -Mike

The Easiest Ever Instant Pot Osso Buco Recipe

Osso Buco doesn’t get any easier than 6 ingredients and 1 hour of cook time. 

  • 1/4 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 small carrot (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (sliced)
  • 1 slice veal or beef shank (about 1 pound)
  • 1 cup white wine (Pinot grigio/Italian white preferred)
  • 1/2 cup passata (or crushed tomatoes)
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh herbs (I just used 1 sprig of oregano)
  1. Roughly chop your onion, carrots, and garlic.



  2. Preheat your Instant Pot to saute high and add 1-2 tablespoons oil. Pat dry your shanks and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper.



  3. Once your instant pot is hot enough (for me, that's about 2 mins past when it beeps) Brown your shanks 1-2 minutes per side.



  4. Remove the shank and add your onion, carrots, and garlic. Cook until soft – 2-4 minutes.



  5. Add the wine and deglaze, scraping the brown bits with a wooden spoon. Reduce until about half the wine is left – 2-3 minutes.



  6. Add passata, herbs if using, and the shanks to the pot. Set pressure to high and braise for 1 hour. Quick release when done and serve, garnish with grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, red pepper flakes, and flat leaf parsley as desired.



Welcome to Dinner & Chill: delicious recipes with easy to find ingredients, low prep, and low effort.

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easy entertaining

I Am... Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are the perfect appetizer: hand held, bite sized, savory, and addictive. They can go from classic and creamy to over-the-top-intense. I have a deep, deep love for deviled eggs. When I see one, I can’t resist. Homemade, store-made, on the menu at a restaurant, if I see a deviled egg, I must have it. As a result, I’ve eaten A LOT of them. I know good deviled eggs and I know all the secrets to making the best ones.

What are deviled eggs?

Do deviled eggs need an introduction? Those little bright and happy white and sunny yellow egg halves are instantly recognizable. Deviled eggs are hard boiled eggs, cut in half, the whites stuffed with the yolks mixed up with mayonnaise and other flavors. They’re delicious!

Why make deviled eggs

I love deviled eggs! They’re the perfect retro snack/appetizer/anytime food. It seems like deviled eggs always make an appearance around Easter, but I eat them all year round because I have no problem just cooking up a dozen eggs specifically for deviled eggs. Hello deliciousness! There’s so much satisfaction in making good deviled eggs. I even know people who consider deviled eggs their dish - you know, the one thing they bring to every party (back when there were parties).

Why these are the best deviled eggs

This is a better than the classic deviled eggs recipe. I’ve perfected it over the years and it’s simple to make, pure, and foolproof. All you need are 5 ingredients for the perfect deviled egg. And the best part is that they’re an exceptional blank slate for all your deviled egg dreams. Make this classic base recipe then let your taste imagination run wild and customize to your heart’s content.

How to make deviled eggs

Considering how cute and dainty deviled eggs are, making them is super easy, barely an inconvenience. Here’s what you need to do:
  1. Hard boil the eggs. My preference is using the Instant Pot because peeling eggs that have been cooked in the Instant Pot is incredibly easy, but I’ve also included instructions on how to perfectly boil eggs on the stove as well.
  2. Peel and prep the eggs. It helps to chill the eggs in an ice bath - this stops them from overcook and makes it easier to peel the shells off because the eggs contract in the cold water and pull away from the shell. After you peel the eggs, use a knife to cut them in half and pop out the yolks.
  3. Blend the filling. Use a food processor to blend the yolks with mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, a touch of cream (or milk), and mustard. Blending will give you an ultra rich and smooth deviled egg filling.
  4. Fill the eggs. My preferred way of filling is to use a cookie scoop: it’s quick and easy and each egg is even filled. After a small cookie scoop my next favorite is using two small spoons - one to scoop the filling, the other to push the filling into the egg cup in a mound. My least favorite way of filling deviled eggs is piping - it’s finicky and to be honest, I don’t love the way piped eggs look, but I guess its classic for a reason?!
  5. Top. Sprinkle on a bit of smoked paprika, freshly ground pepper, or chives for a classic finish. Or go crazy and top it off with fun and creative flavors. I have some ideas below!

Deviled egg ingredients

Deviled eggs ingredients are super straight forward.
  • Eggs. There are no deviled eggs without eggs so get the best eggs you can. This is your base ingredient so go for organic free-range or pastured eggs if you can. It doesn’t matter if they’re white or brown (did you know white eggs come from white chickens and brown eggs come from reddish-brown chickens?).
  • Mayonnaise. My secret ingredient for the best deviled eggs is Japanese Kewpie mayo. Kewpie mayo is Japan’s favorite mayonnaise and salad dressing brand and you’ll pretty much find it in every Japanese household. It’s rich, yet light, and incredibly delicious. You can find it, in its signature squeeze bottle with a red flip top at most grocery stores these days, in the Asian aisle. The mayo itself is a bit more golden that your standard mayo and much more creamy and luxurious. It’s made with just egg yolks – as opposed to regular mayo which is made with whole eggs – and rice vinegar for a hint of sweetness and it’s absolutely addictive. It will make a world of difference in your deviled eggs.
  • Greek yogurt. I like to add a bit of thick Greek yogurt (or sour cream) to add some tang, acidity, and a different kind of creaminess. If you don’t have yogurt or sour cream on hand, you can skip it and use all mayonnaise but I feel like it simultaneously lightens and enriches deviled eggs.
  • Milk or cream. This is a bit of a cheat to make your filling extra creamy and not at all gritty. The cream blends nicely with the yolks and mayo for super light yet luxuriously creamy filling.
  • Mustard. For just the tiniest, barest hint of spice and depth of flavor.
  • Miso. And, if you want to make these the absolute best deviled eggs you’ve ever eaten, please add an tablespoon of white miso to the filling. It gives these deviled eggs so much umami and deep flavor while still being light and addictive. You’ll want to eat the entire batch!

How to make Instant Pot hard boiled eggs

My favorite method of hard boiling eggs is using the Instant Pot. They’re perfectly cooked every time and the shells just fall right off.

How to hard boil eggs in the Instant Pot

  1. Pour 1 cup of water in to the insert and set the steamer rack into the pot. Set the eggs on top of the steamer rack.
  2. Set the pressure to high and cook for 7 minutes.
  3. Quick release and immediately plunge the eggs into an ice bath.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, it’s super easy to just hard boil eggs on the stove.

How to hard boil eggs

  1. Remove the eggs from the fridge as your bringing your water to a boil. Prepare and ice bath with a large bowl of cold water and ice.
  2. Bring a pot of water to rolling boil, then turn the heat down and gently add eggs in, with a slotted spoon. Turn the heat back up to medium high and maintain a simmer for 10-12 minutes depending on your preference, adjusting the heat down, if needed. You don’t want an intense boil, just a happy little simmer.
  3. When the time is up, immediately plunge the eggs into an ice bath to cool down.
  4. When cool, peel the eggs: Gently tap the wide end of the egg on the countertop, then flip around and tap the pointed end. Gently roll the egg and peel, under running water, if it helps.

Tips for the best deviled eggs

  • Completely chill the eggs before slicing and assembling. A cold egg is easier to slice neatly and the yolks pop out cleanly.
  • Kewpie mayo. Use Kewpie mayo and accept no substitutes! Use a food processor to blend the filling so it ends up ultra rich, creamy, and incorporated.
  • For perfectly shaped deviled eggs (not like the ones in the photo), use a cookie scoop to quickly and evenly portion out the fillings. My beloved cookie scoop is off on an adventure right now so I used two small spoons to fill these deviled eggs but usually I use my tiniest cookie scoop and scoop out perfectly round balls into the egg whites.

For best results, make deviled eggs on the day you plan on eating them.

That being said, if you want to make them in advance, the best thing to do is boil the eggs and store them in the fridge, in their shells for up to three days, then peel and prep the eggs the day you’re planning to serve. If you have any leftover eggs, store them in an air tight container in the fridge for up to two days.

Deviled egg toppings

  • Last but not least, great deviled eggs need great toppings. You can keep it simple with just a dusting of smoked paprika or cayenne or you can get super creative. Here are some of our tried and true favorites:
  • Carbonara deviled eggs: crisp up guanciale or pancetta cubes and place on top of the eggs, finishing with a shower of freshly grated parm and black pepper
  • Caesar salad deviled eggs: add 1 anchovy fillet into the egg yolk filling when you blend and top with a crispy crouton and parmesan shavings
  • Carnitas deviled eggs: place a small mound of crispy carnitas on top and finish with a sprinkling of cojita or queso fresco, chopped onions, and cilantro
  • California roll deviled eggs: substitute the Greek yogurt for cream cheese in the egg yolk mixture, then top eggs with a bit of fresh crab, avocado cubes, and a sprinkle of furikake
That’s it, my deviled egg manifesto! I really feel like these will be the best deviled eggs you’ve ever made. The richness of the kewpie mayo and the umami of the white miso really make them addictive. Happy deviled egging! xoxo steph  

Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs are the perfect appetizer: hand held, bite sized, savory, and addictive.

  • 6 eggs (hard boiled)
  • 1/4 cup kewpie mayo (sub regular mayo)
  • 2 tbsp greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 1 tbsp milk (or cream)
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp white miso (optional)
  1. Slice the hard boiled eggs in half.



  2. Gently scoop out the yolks into a food processor. Add the kewpie mayo, yogurt, milk or cream, dijon, and white miso (if using) to the yolks and blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt if needed.



  3. Use two spoons or a small cookie scoop to scoop out the filling into the egg white halves. Enjoy!



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Instant Pot Recipes 30 minutes or less basics easy

I Am... Instant Pot Eggs

You’re 3-7 minutes away from your perfect egg with these instant pot eggs. What are you waiting for?! Do you love eggs? I think eggs are the perfect food. They’re pure protein, they are delicious, you can meal prep them, and they go with just about everything. I have been boiling eggs since I was a little kid but no more because Instant Pot eggs are here to stay! This is a how-to guide on how to make the perfect eggs - hard boiled, medium, and soft boiled - every time, quickly and easily in the Instant Pot. I have to admit, I resisted changing the way I made eggs forever. I mean, it’s so easy to boil eggs in a pot on the stove, am I right? But then, when I tried to up my protein and was eating so many eggs in a week, I decided to meal prep them in the Instant Pot and I have never turned back. It’s SO EASY.

Why you should make eggs in the Instant Pot

I feel like once you try it once, you won’t need convincing, but here are some reasons you should cook your eggs in the Instant Pot:
  1. You don’t need to watch the pot. This is a set it and forget it system. You just pop the eggs in, set it, then when it beeps, you know they’re done. With regular boiled eggs you have to monitor the heat source, make sure nothing is boiling over, basically you’re watching a pot. No more, I say! These eggs will release you from all of that.
  2. The eggs come out perfect. Do you want hard boiled? Jammy? Soft boiled? Instant Pot eggs come out consistent perfect every single time.
  3. Fast. Believe it or not these eggs are (slightly) faster!
  4. They peel easily! If you’re constantly googling: how to perfectly peel eggs, this is the answer. The shells practically fall off – at least if you’re hard boiling or medium boiling them. I found that the soft boiled eggs did not peel easily, but if you’re going to be eating them in an egg cup, it doesn’t really matter too much.
  5. Meal prep. You can make up to a dozen eggs in one go, perfect for meal prep for all those keto life peeps out there.

How many eggs can I cook in the Instant Pot?

As many as you want! You can make one, or a dozen. You have to make sure the eggs don’t touch the water though because what we’re doing is steaming them. The average sized instant pot will probably fit 6 eggs per layer. Racks will help you if you want to make a bunch of eggs at once.

Do you like soft boiled eggs, medium boiled eggs, or hard boiled eggs?

For me, I like them all! I love a softie egg with toast, jammy eggs to eat on their own, and hard boiled for making deviled eggs. I think the Instant Pot has made me fall in love with eggs all over again.

How long for perfect eggs?

Soft boiled:

For just set whites and a very runny yolk you need 3 minutes on High Pressure.

Medium boiled:

For medium boiled eggs medium firm whites and a jammy yolk you need 5 minutes on High Pressure.

Hard boiled:

For hard boiled eggs with firm whites and a fully set yolk you need 7 minutes on High Pressure.

How to make Instant Pot eggs

  1. Put the eggs in the pot. Place your eggs in the pot on the steamer rack with 1 cup of water.
  2. Set the pressure to high. Set the pressure to high and cook for 3-7 minutes, depending on desired doneneses.
  3. Quick release. Quick release and immediately plunge the eggs into an ice bath, peel and enjoy!

What to eat with eggs

Instant Pot Eggs

  • eggs (as needed (about 6 per layer))
  • 1 cup water (this doesn't change no matter how many eggs you make)
  1. Place the rack into the insert of the Instant Pot and add 1 cup of water. Add the eggs to the rack, making sure they’re not touching the water or the side of the insert. Make sure the pressure valve is in the sealed position.



  2. Set the pressure to high and set the time for 3-7 minutes, 3 minutes for soft, 5 minutes for medium, and 7 for hard. When the Instant Pot is done, quick release and immediately place the eggs in a bowl of ice cold water.



  3. Drain well and peel. Enjoy!



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mexican food easy Instant Pot Recipes pork recipes

I Am... The Best Carnitas Recipe

The BEST carnitas. Super easy, 100% foolproof and juicy, delicious carnitas that might even be as good as your favorite taqueria’s. I’ve been making (and eating) carnitas for a really long time. It’s my favorite taco filling–my one must-order at every taco truck and taqueria Steph and I visit. It doesn’t matter if they’re famous for something else, if carnitas is on the menu, I’m ordering it. It’s also, by far, my go-to homemade taco filling. Whenever we’re too tired to cook, or just want to party, homemade taco night edition, carnitas is the default choice, and this is my best recipe for it ever.

What is carnitas

Carnitas needs no introduction. It’s juicy and succulent pork that’s been slow braised and confited in its own fat along with spices, then pulled apart and crisped to perfection. It’s simply the best taco filling.

Why make carnitas

Carnitas is not just a good taco, it’s a good meat to go with just about everything. Carnitas and rice, carnitas and pasta, carnitas quesadillas and burritos, you name it. Having a big pile of carnitas around is like a cooking cheat-code. But, you’re asking, why can’t I just order it from my local Mexican place? And the answer is, you can, and you should! But it costs at least $20/lb for decent stuff, in any city we’ve lived in. This carnitas recipe is just as good and it costs just the price of pork shoulder. Plus, there's the satisfaction of making it yourself.

Why this is the best carnitas

This is the best recipe I could develope over a lot of time and experience making carnitas. It’s simple, pure, and foolproof. All of the fluff is gone, but all of the flavor is there. It doesn’t need hard to find ingredients like pork fat or whole cuts of pork, and, most importantly, it doesn’t need 6+ hours on the stove because it uses an instant pot. It’s my best carnitas, pared down to just the basic, super lazy recipe perfect for taco night or a big dinner party. A blank slate for your customization.

How to make carnitas

Making these carnitas is super easy, barely an inconvenience. All you need is an instant pot and to follow these steps:
  1. Brown the pork. Cube up your pork and season well with salt and pepper. Preheat your instant pot on the saute high setting, with enough oil to cover the bottom of my instant pot. Sear the pork cubes on 2-6 sides (depending on your level of meticulousness) for 1-2 minutes per side. I generally sear 2 sides. It takes about 2 batches to brown 3.5lbs of pork shoulder. Long tongs and a splatter shield is highly recommended here.
  2. Add your braising liquid. For the instant pot you’d ideally have about 1” less liquid than the top of the pork cubes. More on the braise in the ingredients section below.
  3. Cook at pressure. Close the lid of the instant pot. You may need to open the release valve to get it to close as it may still be hot the browning step. Cook at high pressure for 45 minutes, then quick release.
  4. Shred and crisp. This is an important step that you shouldn’t skip. Using two forks, shred the cubes of pork completely. Transfer to a cast iron skillet or other pan. Working in batches, form a thin layer of meat about 1/2” thick and crisp for 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Once you’re done, add about 1/2 cup of the braising liquid in. Mix it up, and you’re done. Enjoy on tacos, in burritos, or any other way you’d like!

Ingredients

The ingredients for this carnitas are pretty straightforward. Some notes:
  • Well marbled pork shoulder. We skip the pork fat in this recipe, so you’re looking for a nicely marbled piece of pork shoulder to replace that fat. Save yourself some time and opt for the slightly more expensive boneless cut as well.
  • Coke. Coke?! Believe it or not, coke is a pretty traditional ingredient. I’ve made carnitas without coke and it’s no contest, carnitas made with coke is far better than without. I use coke zero to avoid the sugar, but you can use whatever coke you have on hand. Obviously Mexican coke would be the most appropriate here.
  • Mexican oregano. Mexican oregano is a different species of oregano that is more floral than conventional oregano. I love it a lot more. Dried Mexican spices tend to be much cheaper than conventional ones too. This one will be easy to find in the Latin aisle, so there is no reason not to try it. You’ll be hooked!

Instant pot carnitas

An instant pot is definitely the best way to make these. But, it’s not the only way. You can also make these with any of these other methods below. The major difference is that it’ll take closer to 6-10 hours to achieve the right texture without pressure.

Stovetop carnitas

It’s the same process for stovetop carnitas. The best pot for stovetop carnitas is a large dutch oven or a stock pot that’s not non-stick.
  1. Brown the pork. Cube up your pork and season well with salt and pepper. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of your dutch oven and place over high heat. When the oil is just about smoking, sear the pork cubes on 2-6 sides (depending on your level of meticulousness) for 1-2 minutes per side. I generally sear 2 sides. It takes about 2 batches to brown 3.5lbs of pork shoulder. Long tongs and a splatter shield is highly recommended here.
  2. Add your braising liquid. On the stovetop (as well as in the oven and crock pot) you’d ideally have just enough liquid to cover the top of the pork cubes.
  3. Simmer. Simmer for 4-6 hours at the lowest possible temp your stove supports, about 1 bubble every 30 seconds. You’ll need to keep an eye on the liquid level. Check back about once an hour and add hot tap water as needed to keep the liquid level stable.
  4. Shred and crisp. This is an important step that you shouldn’t skip. Using two forks, shred the cubes of pork completely. Transfer to a cast iron skillet or other pan. Working in batches made of a thin layer of meat about 1/2” thick, crisp for 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Once you’re done, add about 1/2 cup of the braising liquid in. Mix it up, and you’re done. Enjoy on tacos, in burritos, or any other way you’d like!

Oven carnitas

Oven carnitas are a bit of an upgrade over stovetop. It’s the exact same process, but instead of simmering, you braise in the oven at 200ºF for 4-6 hours. Because it’s in an oven, evaporation should be low and you won’t need to baby it as much. It’s also impossible for it to roll over into a boil.

Crock pot carnitas

Crockpot carnitas are awesome and generally what the crockpot excels at. The only issue is, the crockpot can’t sear and takes a good 4 hours to come to its ideal temp. What I like to do is do all the searing and getting up to temp on the stove, then transfer to a crockpot on low for the remaining time. If for whatever reason you don’t have a stove handy, you can do this without the searing step. Just assemble everything into your crock pot. Cook on high for 2 hours and then switch to low for 6 hours.

How to make carnitas tacos

So now you have carnitas! The best thing to do with them is to make tacos. Below is everything I know about making good tacos:

The right amount of meat and importance of crisping

In general, but especially for tacos, it’s very important to crisp, then finish your carnitas with a little braising liquid. Specifically for tacos, one of the biggest differences between a great taco and a sad one is how dry the filling is. I don’t think anyone likes a dry taco. You might even want to add a little more than the half cup I recommend.

The best tortillas and the importance of warming your tortillas

Another tip for really good tacos are your tortillas and how you warm them. After all, they’re what holds your tacos together. I like to use locally made uncooked corn tortillas or flour tortillas and cook them myself. Whole foods often carries really good local tortillas, even uncooked ones in the fridge section. If you are in a place without access to good locally made tortillas, some of the best mass-produced tortillas around are La Tortilla Factory and Santa Fe Tortilla Company. With store bought tortillas, you need to warm them to make them pliable and delicious. The best way to warm tortillas is to wrap 6-12 at a time in a damp paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds. You can also buy a tortilla warmer instead of the paper towel thing. Of the major, major brands, Mission Foods is probably the way to go. For me, the best tortillas come from Sonora - Southern Arizona and New Mexico. Anything you can get from around those parts is going to taste insanely good.

Taco toppings

Last but not least, great tacos need great toppings:
  • Chopped onions, fresh cilantro, and lime wedges are standard and non-negotiable. Is it even a taco without these? I also like to have extra sliced jalapenos on the side as well.
  • Queso fresco adds a cheesy umami to your tacos.
  • Pickled shallots add a bright tart note.
  • Freshly made pico de gallo is a game changer for me. The important detail is to make it fresh that day and let it sit for 15 minutes to let the flavors meld. I always try to make some before we have tacos. Pico de gallo in our house is just chopped roma tomato, 1/2 small onion, jalapeno, cilantro, the juice of a half lime, and a little salt to taste.
  • Finally, hot sauces are an excellent optional but not really optional thing. For us, we don’t really make these, we buy them locally from our favorite restaurants. Hot sauces are made differently everywhere, and I’ve found restaurants pretty much beat anything that’s available commercially. We usually get a salsa roja, salsa verde, and a salsa picante. Basically, a red sauce made of chipotle, a green sauce of mostly tomatillos, and a spicy sauce of mostly habeneros. If you don’t have a good Mexican restaurant nearby, I recommend the Aardvark Habanero and Aardvark Serrabanero as a pretty decent substitutes.
And that’s it. I really feel these will be the best carnitas you’ve ever made. Go forth and taco party! -Mike

The Best Carnitas Recipe

Super easy, 100% foolproof and juicy, delicious carnitas that might even be as good as your favorite taqueria’s.

  • 3 lb pork shoulder/butt (cubed, well marbled)
  • 1 medium onion (chopped)
  • juice of 1/2 orange (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup coke (coke zero preferred)
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp oregano (Mexican preferred)
  • 2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 bay leaves
  1. Cover the bottom of your instant pot with high heat oil (about 2tbsp) and preheat on saute high. Cube the pork and season with salt and pepper, keeping an eye on the instant pot to make sure it’s not smoking.



  2. Brown 2 sides of your pork cubes, in batches if needed,



  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and set to high pressure for 45 minutes, then quick release.



  4. Using two forks, shred the cubes of pork completely. Transfer to a cast iron skillet or other pan. Working in batches made of a thin layer of meat about 1/2” thick, crisp for 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Once you’re done, add about 1/2 cup of the braising liquid in.



  5. Mix it up, and you’re done. Enjoy on tacos, in burritos, or any other way you’d like!



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vegan basics

I Am... The Ultimate Guide to Seitan

Seitan is a super versatile vegan protein made from vital wheat gluten. It's what's used to make vegan chicken, aka fake chicken, and doesn't that lead image look just like chicken? If you’re vegan, or maybe even if you’re not but you’ve been peeping on viral cooking Tiktoks, I’m sure you’ve heard of seitan. It’s what people are calling fake chicken, made from flour. It's nothing new – it’s been around in China since the 6th century. It’s been called wheat meat, gluten, mock meat, fake meat, vegan meat, and the list goes on. It's made from wheat but it’s nothing like bread. When it’s cooked it looks and acts like meat! It’s high in protein which makes it the perfect meal alternative for vegans. Like meat, seitan can be prepared multiple ways: boiled, baked, deep-fried, pan fried, sliced, crumbled, or shredded. I grew up eating it – there was this one particular dish that I loved as a kid. Essentially it was fried “ham” and I LOVED it. I was a super picky eater, but I really, really like fried seitan. I think it must have been the seasoning. Anyway, I’m here to say that even though seitan seems like a love it or hate it kind of thing, don’t knock it until you try it. Like tofu it can take on SO many flavors and is extremely versatile.

What is seitan?

Seitan is wheat gluten. Essentially, it’s food made from gluten, the protein found in wheat. The commonly used name, seitan, is Japanese (セイタン) which implies that it was invented in Japan, but wheat gluten first appeared in China in the 6th century. It's an incredibly popular ingredient in Asian and Southeast Asian countries as a vegan alternative to meat because of its chewiness that’s reminiscent of the texture of meat. You can buy it at health food grocery stores or Whole Foods, but even better, it’s really easy to make at home! You can make it one of two ways: either by using whole flour and washing it or by using vital wheat gluten.

Where is it from?

Seitan was first invented as a meat alternative for Chinese Buddhist monks because one of the key tenets of Buddhism is strict vegetarianism. There’s a huge amount of Chinese vegetarian food that looks just like regular Chinese food but is made with seitan. Nowadays it's popular all over the world for vegans and vegetarians.

How is seitan used?

Seitan is used like most meat and meat alternative products. You can use it anywhere meat is used! It can be shredded and crumbled, sliced, and made into sausages or nuggets. Anything meat can do, it can do too.

What does seitan taste like?

Seitan on its own doesn’t taste like much - it’s very mild, a little bit savory and kind of bland. It's more about texture rather than its taste. Texturally, it's ultra meaty and can take on any flavor. You can season it to taste like meat, but most people use it as a blank slate which then can be seasoned when you cook it in recipes.

Seitan ingredients

All you need is vital wheat gluten and water.

How to make seitan

  1. Make the dough: Mix together 1 cup vital wheat gluten with 1/4 cup chickpea flour. Add some seasonings and stir in 1 cup of water or vegetable broth.
  2. Knead the dough: Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes so it develops strands of gluten - this is what gives seitan its meaty texture. The more you knead, the more chewy it'll be. Conversely, the less you knead, the more tender, so adjust according to what you like. I like to use a stand mixer.
  3. Let it rest: Let the dough rest, covered for about 5 minutes so the gluten can relax.
  4. Simmer: Cut the dough into 4 (or more pieces), shape and simmer on low in a flavorful broth.
  5. Use it in recipes: Your seitan is cooked and ready to eat! You can eat it as is, or use it in recipes where you would use meat.

What is seitan made of?

Seitan is made from wheat gluten, the protein found in wheat.

The easy way to make seitan

The key to making seitan at home is vital wheat gluten! It used to be a difficult thing to make but now that vital wheat gluten is widely available, it’s the easiest meat alternative you can make at home.

What is vital wheat gluten?

Vital wheat gluten is the extracted form of protein found in wheat. It’s what helps make bread bouncy, squishy, and elastic. When you isolate the gluten protein in wheat, you end up vital wheat gluten, which, when mixed with water and kneaded a little, has a dense meat-like texture. Optional: Adding a bit of an alternative type of flour gives you a softer texture. Using just gluten can yield an end product that's a bit tougher than some people like. That’s why when you look at the ingredients of on a commercial package of this stuff, you’ll often see soy protein. You can use any alternative flour you like, I like chickpea or soy flour. If you don’t have chickpea flour but you have dried chickpeas, you can make chickpea flour at home by using a blender or food processor to grind dried chickpeas until they are fine and powdery.

Washed flour seitan

Washed flour seitan is what’s going viral on Tiktok and while it definitely works, it’s a LOT more work than using vital wheat gluten. It can take hours. Here’s how you do it:
  1. Mix 3 parts flour with 1 part water and knead. Place the ball of dough in a bowl of cool water. Wash the dough by kneading and stretching.
  2. Discard the water, add new water and keep washing, discarding and adding new water, until the water becomes more or less just touch cloudy and your dough is stringy.
  3. Let the dough rest in a colander for 20 minutes then shape and cook the same as seitan made from vital wheat gluten.

How to cook seitan

Just like meat, there are tons of ways you can cook seitan. I like to simmer it so that the flavor of the stock permeates and flavors the inside. My favorite way to finish it is to rip it into pieces then pan fry after it’s been simmered. Steam: steaming creates a fluffy rise that has bubbles and aeration of the gluten. It’s more dense than simmered seitan and not as juicy - it’s good for searing or stir frying. Steaming is also slightly quicker than simmering. Simmer: Simmering gives you a fluffy rise and lots of aeration of the gluten. It also has the added bonus of adding flavor to the seitan because you can season your broth. When you’re simmering, be careful not to let it come to a boil because it will get overly puffy and lose the meaty texture you’re looking for. Deep fry: Deep frying gives you golden puffs that are airy and have a smooth texture when you cook it again. Pictured below.

Where to buy it

If you’re wondering where is seitan at the grocery store, it’s in the fridge section! You’ll find it next to the tofu. Sometimes it’ll be in the frozen section as well.

How to store

Store it wrapped, in a sealed container in the fridge for up to one week.

Is it healthy?

It's an excellent source of lean protein and is a great meat substitute. It’s low in saturated fat and carbs. That being said, if you’re sensitive to gluten or are celiac, you’re better off eating tofu because seitan is made from vital wheat gluten. Hopefully this answers some of your questions about seitan and inspires you to try making it at home! If you’re looking for meat alternatives that aren’t tofu, this is a great choice.

Seitan recipes

Seitan Recipe

I can't believe it's not meat!

  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten (~120g)
  • 1/4 cup chickpea flour (~30g, or soy flour)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 - 1 cup water
  • 6 cups broth (of choice, eg: vegetable)
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 carrot (roughly chopped)
  • 1 stalk celery (roughly chopped)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the vital wheat gluten, chickpea flour, onion powder, garlic powder, and salt.



  2. Add the water or vegetable broth and stir into a dough. Turn out onto a work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. The more you knead, the more meat-y your seitan will be. If you’re looking for seitan that can shred, knead longer. If you want more tender seitan, knead for less time. Cover and let the seitan rest for 5 minutes.



  3. While the seitan is resting, bring the vegetable broth, onion, carrot, celery, and soy sauce up to a boil in a very large pot then turn the heat down to the lowest it will go, so that it’s barely simmering.



  4. Cut the dough into at least 4 large pieces and shape. You can also cut or pull the dough into small strips or chunks.

    Optional: Shape and wrap the seitan in foil before simmering. This will give you a more dense, meaty texture because the seitan won’t have as much room to expand.



  5. Add the seitan to the barely simmering broth and cook, uncovered for 1 hour, making sure it doesn’t come to a boil.



  6. When the hour is up, remove from the heat and let cool. Use immediately or store in the broth for future use. Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze.



Note: some of the photos feature sweet and sour seitan. To make:

1 lb seitan, torn into small pieces
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 bell pepper cubed
1/2 red onion cubed

Toss the seitan with 1 tbsp cornstarch to coat evenly.

Heat up a bit of oil in a frying pan and lightly fry the seitan until golden and crisp over medium high heat. Remove from the pan and let rest on a wire rack.

Make the sweet and sour sauce: whisk together the remaining 1 tbsp cornstarch with 1/4 cup water. Whisk in the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, and soy sauce.

Add the sauce to the pan and bring it to a boil. Once bubbling, turn the heat to low and add the vegetables. Cook until your desired doneness then remove from the heat (we keep the vegetables almost raw).

Add the cooked seitan to the sauce and toss until well coated. Enjoy!

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