Chocolate Caramel Cake

This is my go-to cake for special occasions, as every always loves it. But you do have to love chocolate ~ Caramel ~ English Toffee!  It is a simple recipe, but the add-ins make it rich and delicious.

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The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients

Chocolate Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder (King Arthur available at Amazon)
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • One jar of the best caramel topping you can find, kept in the refrigerator to make it harder.
  • English Toffee
  • Big Malted Milk Balls

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350º F.   Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring. Then line with 9″ round parchment paper and spray again.  (I buy the pre-cut rounds by Wilton – available at Walmart)
  • For the cake:
  • Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  • Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter.
  • Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center, comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.
  • Using a serrated bread knife, cut each layer in half so you have four layers.
Putting it together:
  • Make the Chocolate Buttercream recipe shown below.  Pipe or spoon a ridge of the buttercream all around the outside of the first layer.
  • Fill the center with the now hardened caramel
  • Put on the second & third layer and repeat
  • Frost the cake with rest of the frosting (there always seems to be a bit too much)
  • Put the English Toffee in a ziplock bag and crush with your rolling pin or meat pounder.
  • Decorate how you like with the Malted Milk Balls

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

INGREDIENTS

  • 1½ cups butter (3 sticks), softened
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 5 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon espresso powder

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add cocoa to a large bowl or bowl of stand mixer. Whisk through to remove any lumps.
  2. Cream together butter and cocoa powder until well-combined.
  3. Add sugar and milk to cocoa mixture by adding 1 cup of sugar followed by about a tablespoon of milk. After each addition has been combined, turn mixer onto a high speed for about a minute. Repeat until all sugar and milk have been added.
  4. Add vanilla extract and espresso powder and combine well.
  5. If frosting appears too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency. If it appears to wet and does not hold its form, add more confectioner’s sugar, a tablespoon at a time until it reaches the right consistency.

Serve with Champagne and have a wonderful time.

Chocolate Caramel Cake

Beyond Granite

20 Kitchen Countertop Alternatives

Stuck in a countertop rut? Explore your options beyond the typical granite and laminate, from unusual materials like glass and metal to more traditional choices like marble and wood.

Screen Shot 2018-04-24 at 8.54.31 AM.png1. Engineered Beauty

One of the most popular countertop surfaces today, engineered quartz is versatile and durable. Its nearly endless range of color options allows you to visually tie an open kitchen to the surrounding living spaces like designer

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2. Smorgasbord of Surfaces

And why stop at two surfaces? In this gorgeous space, perimeter countertops are Taj Mahal Quartzite, and the island combines 3-inch-thick walnut butcher’s block with 14-gauge stainless steel topped by Silver Waves marble.
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3. Butcher Block

For a warm, cottage kitchen look, opt for butcher-block-style wood countertops. Both decorative and functional, this hardworking surface is ideal for food prep properly sealed, wood countertops are sanitary even for chopping meat. Unlike other budget-friendly options, like laminate, wood is highly heat-resistant so you don’t have to worry about putting hot pots and pans on the surface. I would not suggest putting something directly from the oven to the counter, no matter what the surface.

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4. Wood on White

Dark-stained wood adds contrast and a country feel to this white country kitchen. Like natural granite, wood counters can vary widely in the uniformity and graining of their patterns. That variation is part of their appeal.
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5. Magnificent Marble

Counters of Carrara marble with a polished top function as beautifully as they look. While marble has a reputation for being high maintenance, it can age beautifully with a little care and nothing beats it for rolling out pastry dough. If you are an active cook or a little messy, this is not the surface for you.  Maybe an area for rolling out pastry only.

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6. Green Marble

A stunning twist on the traditional, the green marble finish in this renovated farmhouse kitchen extends to the deep apron sink, creating a continuous line that’s echoed on the insides of the window casings. The overall effect is crisp and fresh, giving the space modern punch that ties in with the home’s contemporary flair.

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7. Paint It

Giani stone paint is a sealant that completely and totally overhauls the look of any countertop. It can be used on anything from laminate to butcher’s block to primed and painted wood, and because it is a finish itself, it should only have to be redone if the surface is ever chipped or damaged.

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8. Cool Concrete

Concrete countertops are highly customizable, you can choose any stain color and texture. Concrete mixes well with many different materials, such as glass, tile, and marble to create a one-of-a-kind look. Aside from its eye-pleasing appearance, it is energy efficient when the temperature in your home rises, concrete captures the heat and releases it when the temperature cools down.

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9. The Eco Edge – Recycled Countertops

Countertops made of recycled glass are colorful, eco-friendly and durable.

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10. Clean and Streamlined

Developed specifically for countertops, Granicrete has the great modern look of concrete, but is seamless and is certified by the National Sanitation Foundation as being bacteria-proof and stain-proof. The waterfall edge here creates an especially sleek look, without the weight and cost of poured concrete.
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11. Engineered for Beauty

Granicrete is available in stone-like patterns like the one featured here, perfect in a more traditional kitchen. The surface never needs resealing as “real” concrete would.
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12. Soapstone

Say yes to Soapstone countertops as they offer a soft look and can look great in a sleek, modern space. Though pricier than some other countertop options, soapstone is environmentally friendly and durable, offering significant value. Unlike other natural stones, it doesn’t require yearly sealing but regular applications of mineral oil will help to disguise any surface scratches, add sheen and deepen the stone’s color over time.

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13. Square Deal

Tile countertops are a great choice if you want an inexpensive material that’s easy to maintain. Opt for handmade ceramics or even off-the-shelf squares from your local big-box store.

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14. Steely Resolve

Stainless steel countertops aren’t just for sleek modern spaces. Here it is used in a country-style kitchen, where the gleaming surface contrasts beautifully with exposed brick and the well-worn bottoms of the homeowners’ cookware. Over time, the counters may scratch and show wear but that’s part of their charm in a space like this and they are super durable.
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15. Glowing Glass

A solid glass countertop looks almost like ice, lending a cool, chic feeling to this energetic kitchen. Although it’s more expensive than other countertop materials, glass is growing in popularity for its stain resistance and sleek, dramatic style.

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16. Count on Copper

A custom copper countertop and backsplash add warmth and glamour to this bar area designed. Copper countertops are highly germ resistant but are prone to dents and scratches. Polish it weekly to maintain its shine, or allow it to develop a patina of a burnished brown-black with green flecks.
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17. Leather or Not

Leather-textured granite gives the sexy look of skin with all the durability of stone. The look is edgy and trendy without being in-your-face.
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18. Double Vision

Two countertops? Twice as nice! A center island topped with quartz by Cambria is a functional focal point in this kitchen, and the countertops around the room’s perimeter are solid black granite. That mix and those materials represent the most current countertop trends.
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19. Walnut

Wow With Walnut. Here rustic materials are used to create a coherent style throughout. Distressed wood cabinetry, a copper sink, and faucet, and the material on the counter is walnut with a live edge.

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20. Paper Works

As its name implies, Paperstone is made of compressed paper yet is surprisingly durable. This colorful kitchen uses it in an eco-friendly design.
So have fun designing your kitchen.  There are lots of fun options out there.  Pick wisely for your needs, but do something different.  It is no fun being the same as everyone else.
Beyond Granite

Top 8 Refrigerators For the Modern Kitchen

 An intelligently designed refrigerator not only keeps your produce fresh, but exhibits excellent craftsmanship, ergonomics, and storage capabilities. To take the guesswork out of choosing the right appliance, we’ve rounded up our recommended fridges that prove that form and functionality are not mutually exclusive. Whether you opt for a retro design, double French doors, or seamless cabinet integration, our top picks for refrigerators are sure to keep your kitchen looking cool.

Oh no, where is my Leibherr 36″ French Door refrigerator that I love!  Covered panels, so it blends in and does not jump out at you.  I really like the disappearing refrigerator.  I think it is nice to have one, but mine has always been a little discreet. The photo below is mine.

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Top 8 Refrigerators For the Modern Kitchen

How To Cook Chicken Like a Pro 

This is an article from Hello Fresh about how to cook chicken.  I thought it had some good ideas, so am sharing it here. 

 

cooking chicken-guide-HelloFresh-spanish-one-pan-chorizo-chicken

Chicken is an extremely versatile and popular type of protein, and Americans consume about 92 pounds of it a year. But despite its popularity, people still struggle with basic cooking techniques. Whether you prefer boneless skinless breasts, bone-in skin-on parts, or even the whole bird, the challenge is the same. How do you cook it evenly, lock in flavor, and keep it juicy and moist? And if you’re a skin lover how do you get the skin perfectly crisp?

No two parts of the bird are the same, and I’m sure you’ve found yourself overwhelmed in the meat aisle at your grocery store wondering which part is best. But don’t panic! We’re breaking it down and dishing out all the tips and tricks to help you cook chicken like a pro.

Whole Chicken

cooking chicken-guide-HelloFresh-whole-chicken

Few dishes are as quintessentially comforting as a whole roasted chicken. The aroma alone screams Sunday supper! And while you only need a few simple ingredients like salt, pepper, and perhaps some fresh garlic and herbs, the trick to a perfectly roasted chicken is all in the technique. Additionally, buying and roasting a whole chicken is really affordable, and leftovers make a perfect second meal. Of course, you can default to a rotisserie chicken, but mastering the art of roasting a whole chicken is a lot easier than you may think.

Tip #1: Dry = Crispy

Start with a 4-5 pound broiling or frying chicken. Dry the chicken well (inside and out) with paper towels. For best results, open it from the package in the morning or even the night before and leave it on a rack in a roasting pan uncovered in the fridge.

Tip #2: Salt is essential

Season generously all over (inside and out) with salt and pepper. A good rule of thumb is about 1 Tablespoon salt for an average 4-5 pound bird, and I prefer a Kosher-style salt, like Diamond. Plus the salt acts as a brine and will keep the chicken very moist.

Tip #3: Season beyond salt

If you are seasoning it with more than salt and pepper, combine your spice mixture (I love the simplicity of freshly minced garlic and a mix of herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme) in a bowl, then rub all over. Again, don’t forget about the inside of the bird! Feel free to season in advance to boost flavor.

Tip#4: Don’t forget the cavity

To add some extra moisture and flavor, cut a lemon, onion, or even an apple in chunks and place in the cavity along with a sprig or two of herbs/bay leaves. As the chicken roasts, these aromatics will release moisture and flavor — just remember to remove before carving.

Tip #5: Truss and tuck

Truss (tie) the legs and tuck the wings. Not only does this make for a prettier presentation, but it also helps keep the breasts from drying out while cooking.

Tip #6To baste or not to baste?

There are some people who love to dot their chicken with butter or brush it with oil before cooking, and then baste while it’s roasting. However, if you like the skin crispy, I’d advise against this since brushing and basting tends to reduce the crispiness factor.  Every time you open the oven, the temperature drops, so it’s best to keep the chicken at an even temperature and let the oven do the work.

Tip #6: Slow and steady

I’m a fan of 350º F all the way unless you’re in a hurry. On average, you’ll want to cook your chicken about 15 -20 minutes per pound to keep the white meat moist and ensure the dark meat is cooked through.

Tip #7: Roasting pan, sheet pan, and more

A traditional roasting pan that you line with a rack is sufficient since it will keep the bird elevated and allow the bottom to crisp. However, a shallow sheet pan will also allow the sides to crisp up more. I’m also a fan of roasting the chicken in a large cast iron skillet, which retains heat very well.

Tip #8: Check for doneness

Don’t poke your chicken too often while it’s cooking. Instead, set your timer for the estimated time, then insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone). If it registers 165º F, it’s good to go. If you don’t have a thermometer, insert a sharp knife into the thickest part of the thigh (also avoiding the bone), and if the juices run clear, the chicken is ready.

Tip #9: Be patient and let it rest

Don’t rush to carve that chicken right after you’ve taken it out of the oven. Not only is it too hot to handle, but letting it rest for about 15 minutes will allow the juices time to redistribute.

Chicken Breasts

cooking chicken-guide-HelloFresh-creamy-dill-chicken-breasts-green-beans-roasted-potatoes

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are perhaps one of the hardest working proteins around.  They’re high in protein, low in fat, and cook relatively quickly. But perhaps the best part about this cut of chicken is its versatility since chicken breasts can be marinated, grilled, pan seared, sautéed, roasted, sliced and diced for simple stir-fries, threaded onto kabobs, or even shallow fried as cutlets when stuffed or pounded.

Despite their popularity, chicken breasts can be challenging to cook — especially when there is a significant difference between the thick and thin part. And unfortunately, it’s easy for this cut to become tough and rubbery when overcooked. But with these basic tips, you’ll be well on your way to moist and delicious chicken breasts in no time.

Tip #1: Smaller is best

Look for smaller size breasts, if possible, 6-7 oz is best. If you end up with ones that are extra large (between 8-12 oz), cut them in half horizontally for more even cooking, pound them out for cutlets, or slice and dice ‘em into small chunks for stir-fries.

Tip #2: Pat dry

Always make sure you pat the chicken with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. If you’ve marinated chicken, make sure the marinade is shaken off and chicken is dry. Most marinades have salt so you can skip salting if you’re starting with a marinated chicken breast.

Tip #3: Don’t overcrowd

Start with a wide frying/sauté pan that helps keep splattering to a minimum (nonstick is okay but not essential). If you crowd the pan, the breasts won’t brown as nicely and leave enough room for turning. Consider if you’re going to be adding other ingredients like veggies or pasta.

Tip #3: Choose cooking fats wisely

Heat about two teaspoons of oil (regular olive oil is fine, but extra-virgin is not the best choice here due to its low smoke point). I like adding a knob (tablespoon) of butter at the end, which adds a nice flavor and color. In most cases, medium-high heat is best and will create a good sear. However, if it’s getting dark too quickly, you’ll want to adjust your heat slightly.

Tip #4: Leave it alone

If you want a nice sear, try not to move the chicken for about 5-7 minutes once in the pan. If the chicken is sticking, it’s probably not ready and won’t be golden brown.  Try to avoid over-flipping. Turn it once and don’t touch again for an additional 5-7 minutes. Again, the goal is golden brown color on each side.

Tip #5: Be patient and let it rest

Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before slicing or serving to allow for carry-over cooking and time for juices to redistribute. You’ll want to look for an internal temperature of 165°F, but if you don’t have a thermometer, pay attention to the following: Has the chicken shrunk while cooking? Is it somewhat firm to the touch? If you don’t have a thermometer, make a small cut into the thickest part and check that the juices run clear and flesh is no longer pink.

Bone-In Chicken Parts/Boneless Chicken Thighs

cooking chicken-guide-HelloFresh-korean-style-chicken-thighs

Chicken legs, thighs, and wings are known as dark meat. These parts are naturally fattier than chicken breast, but also get fat and flavor from the skin. Some people prefer the dark meat because it tends to be more flavorful, but it will take a little longer to cook.

Bone-in, skin-on pieces (even breasts) are best for longer braises, deep-frying, and roasting. They are great marinated and grilled, and certainly less expensive than boneless.

Boneless chicken thighs have a lot of flavor and are just as versatile as the breast. They’re perfect for dicing in stir-fries or quick tacos and take to marinades very well. They can be pan seared and then transferred to the oven to finish cooking, roasted the entire way through, grilled, or lightly breaded and shallow fried. They work well in dishes like chicken chili’s, pot pies, and braises. Just like all poultry, you’ll want to get the internal temp to 165ºF.

Tip #1: Pat dry

Just like the whole chicken and breast, you want to pat the dark meat pieces dry with paper towel. This helps to avoid splatter and increase crisp.

Tip #2: Render the fat

Melting and clarifying animal fat (aka rendering) helps to tenderize the connective tissues. Roasting at high heat or slow braising are the best techniques for this. It’s best to sear in a hot pan first to render excess fat and add flavor. Next, transfer to an oven or add sauce/wine/veggies to the pan and let simmer while chicken cooks.

Eat and enjoy!

How To Cook Chicken Like a Pro 

Top 25 Renovating Mistakes

  1. Buying Cheap Materials

    “One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to home renovation (is that) they try to be cheap when they buy materials. The bottom line is, you’re going to get what you pay for.” “If you’re going to do it, do it. If you can’t afford to do it, wait.”

    2. Inaccurate Measurements

    An inch or even sometimes a half an inch can make a difference. And if your dimensions are off and it’s not equal and symmetrical, you’re not going to get the full impact and effect that you want. If you’re not sure about how to measure or you can’t follow the directions, don’t hesitate at all to call somebody. Ask them to come over and take the measurement for you.

    3. Skipping the Prep Work

    Do it the right way, right away. You shouldn’t avoid your prep work. You want to take the time to do it right and right from the beginning.

    It’s a horrible, tedious process, and nobody likes it, but it saves so much time later on down the way. And that’s what you’re trying to do: save yourself money and time.

 

Top 25 Renovating Mistakes

How High Should You Hang Your Upper Kitchen Cabinets?

 Here is a relevant article from Houzz.  Don’t let industry norms box you in. Here are some reasons why you might want more space above your countertops
A client of mine recently raised a good question: “Do upper cabinets have to be installed the standard 18 inches off the countertop?” It got me thinking outside of the usual cabinetry box. Of course, there are lots of ways to install your upper cabinets, and if you’re willing to have an open mind, you might find that elevating them comes with unexpected benefits. Here are situations where you might want to hang your cabinets a little higher.
How High Should You Hang Your Upper Kitchen Cabinets?

Key Measurements to Help You Design Your Kitchen

Whether you are moving into an existing kitchen, remodeling the one you have or building a new one, understanding a few key building measurements and organizational guidelines can help your culinary life run more smoothly.

Kitchens provide storage for your food and give you room for prep and cleanup, and of course, provide a place where you can cook and bake. When it’s thoughtfully arranged, these functions operate logically, making working in your kitchen a better experience. Here’s how to get the ideal setup.

Key Measurements to Help You Design Your Kitchen

63 Kitchen Design Ideas from Sunset

 

Time for an update? Pick your favorite style from our gallery of beautiful kitchen designs

 

Multi-Purpose Kitchen

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When Sunset editor-in-chief Irene Edwards set out to remodel her Victorian home, the goal was to balance style with function. Because her husband cooks for a living, this is the most used space in Edwards’ home. But the original configuration felt cramped, with a low ceiling and a breakfast room separated by French doors. The architect removed those doors and reconfigured the kitchen into three zones: a cooking area with a prep sink, a nook for everyday meals, and a larger sink area for cleanup. Removing the dropped ceiling revealed almost three extra feet of height—a feature showcased by adding shiplap ceiling finish, pendant lights, and a library-style ladder.

 

Natural Colors

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The Underwoods gutted their outdated kitchen, shifting it to a more central spot in the house. Formica and 1950s painted knotty pine gave way to modern raw-oak cabinetry and Caesarstone countertops; large-scale slatted-wood pendant lamps act as striking art elements.

Customize Cabinets

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“The kitchen is all about maximum function in minimum space,” says homeowner Grant Kirkpatrick. “Everything has to be able to store cleanly.” The alderwood cabinets have drawer pullouts and racks to pack away all utensils; pantry items and cleaning supplies are stashed in a more generous cabinet across the living room.

 

Moody Touches

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By eliminating a breakfast nook, Eva Kosmas Flores and her husband, Jeremy, opened up the kitchen and made room for the vintage Roper range they scored on Craigslist. “I like to think about all the food that’s been prepared on it over the years,” says Eva, who learned to cook at her parents’ Greek deli. “I hope that all the good food karma carries into what I cook on it too.” A contractor installed the Shaker-style cabinets and oak floors.

 

Portland Loft Kitchen

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When the kitchen is the highlight of a floor plan, tile is a statement of style. The textural glazed thin brick rises to the soffit and covers the range hood. This kitchen also features drawers instead of standard kitchen cabinets that often unreachable, wasted back corners.

 

On the Water

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The Bertrams, avid cooks, and entertainers went through their kitchen dish by dish to come up with the right division of space. Nebolon designed hanging racks for their favorite glassware and pots; the island includes custom spice drawers, a pullout chopping block, and shelves for cookbooks. The fog blue paint on the cabinets helps them blend in with the main living space.

 

Budget Makeover

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The Emericks removed all of the upper cabinetry, adding new native-fir open shelves and countertops. Cream-colored cabinets, brass hardware and light fixtures, and 
the farm sink give the cottage a farmhouse vibe. The back 
of the fireplace became an architectural frame for the stove, which the couple 
found at a garage sale.

Save to Splurge Kitchen

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Staying on budget involved a series of compromises and calculations. To save money in the kitchen the couple did without upper cabinetry, instead repurposing shelving from their previous home. And by paying less for a lightly dented refrigerator, they were able to pony up the cash for something else they wanted: “We splurged on a nice, quiet Bosch dishwasher,” says homeowner Anna Smith. “It’s worth it with kids.”

 

Smart Kitchen

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Designer Jessica McCarthy opened up the kitchen by swapping out the upper cabinets for white shelves against counter-to-ceiling subway tile. She brought warmth to the space through butcher-block countertops; a rust-colored rug; and wood, brass, cork, and copper accessories. The porcelain farmhouse sink and blue cabinets reference traditional country style.

 

Beach Cottage Kitchen

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Varying finishes give the kitchen and dining room character. “It’s like a math problem: You start with one thing and play off that,” homeowner Dana Marron says. A dark green La Cornue stove contrasts with light, modern oak cabinets; shiny metal chairs offset the rustic chipped-paint dining table. “The irony of having white floors is that you worry less about them. Scratches don’t matter, because that’s the character you’re going for in the end,” adds Marron.

 

Bright Assets

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The main attraction in the kitchen is the bright yellow stove, which the couple decided to buy during one of their first appliance-shopping dates. They chose a soothing blue Heath backsplash to complement the yellow and added a chalkboard for their “absurd lists of grocery items,” says Ellen Bennett. To save space, Casey Caplowe designed their kitchen pantry to fit underneath the staircase, which is wrapped in solid oak.

 

Splashed with Color

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The interior designer wanted more color in the kitchen than a typical backsplash would give, so she extended the tiles to the ceiling and onto the floor. The stunning result delineates the kitchen from the rest of the open space.  Open glass shelves along the rest of the wall get the most impact out of the tile.

 

Bold Kitchen

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Instead of replacing the unremarkable wood kitchen cabinets, the couple painted them charcoal and added black hardware. By painting the wall and window trim the same color, they put the focus on the floor tile. Moreover, deep charcoal acts as a neutral. Both warm and cool tones pair well with it.

The hexagonal tile makes the room. Two shades of gray relate the tile to the wall color. The blues add shock value. Hexagon 8 tiles in Original Blue, from about $20/sq.

Cupboard Free Kitchen

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Designed and built by the family, this vacation home was customized down to every detail. The kitchen features open shelving, so dishware serves as art. “You don’t end up having a lot of stuff just hidden away,” says homeowner Chad Robertson. “All the things you use on a daily basis are right there. And with so many of us running around, nothing can be too precious.”

 

Indoor/Outdoor Kitchen

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This modern cabin is full of natural materials and expanses of glass. The kitchen walls slide aside to access the 450-square-foot deck that includes a barbecue station, effectively doubling the room’s square footage. The ipe flooring flows from indoor to out, creating a cohesive look between the spaces. The refrigerator and pantry doors almost disappear into the walls.

Eco-Friendly Kitchen

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Though it has a similar foot­print to the prior kitchen (“low 8-foot ceilings, red cabinets, dismal,” Beall says), the new walk-through space feels bigger thanks to higher ceilings, glass-front cabinets, floating shelves, a pull-out pantry, and bright white surfaces. The recessed energy-efficient LED lights in the kitchen and family room certainly help as well.

 

Modern Meets Old-School

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One of the first things you notice about this San Francisco kitchen is the open space and clear countertops. While this family designated their home a technology-free space, the design and function of the kitchen certainly don’t suffer. Modern lines and electricity are present in the kitchen, the family opted for simple household products like manual appliances, stove-top coffee, and basic electronic appliances without an LED interface.

 

Cottage Kitchen

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Oversize windows and skylights invite in the sunshine. Walls are painted a light-bouncing white, while white ceramic subway tiles brighten the kitchen and baths.

For contrast, the wooden floors are stained with a custom mix of ebony and dark walnut shades; the high-gloss polyurethane top coat reflects even more light.

Get the look: Wall paint is Decorator’s White eggshell with semi-gloss trim throughout (benjaminmoore.com for stores) Kitchen tile is ceramic 3- by 6-inch in white K101 (daltile.com for stores)

Open Craftsman kitchen

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The ground floor of the once single-story house is now essentially one combined kitchen, dining area, living space, and home office, with bedrooms in an upstairs addition.

 

Dual-Family Kitchen

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The kitchen in this shared vacation cabin is a simple line of cabinets, counters, and stove along one wall of the main living space.

 

Heath-Tiled Kitchen

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Flush-mounted lights on the soffit and under the cabinets show off hand-tooled yellow Heath tiles on this kitchen wall. The soft gray walls and mushroom-colored concrete counters subtly complement the tile.

 

“Unfinished” Kitchen

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In designer Cisco Pinedo’s house, knickknacks are few and far between, which results in each item gaining a sense of importance and meaning. The kitchen counters are recycled granite, and the cupboards are made from unfinished wood. “If it’s a great material, let it be,” Cisco says.

 

Creative Renovation

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In this home renovation, a new island increased counter space and allows for a prep sink beyond the main farmhouse sink. The kitchen cabinet doors were removed: If a door’s closed, you have a tendency to forget things are there. To maintain the integrity of the house, the owners had the walls repaired with plaster, not drywall.

 

Casual Cabin Kitchen

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Thrifty choices in this cabin’s kitchen include a mix of open shelves and laminate cabinets.

 

Kitchen the Colors of Sea Glass

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This turquoise and white kitchen is inspired by the sea  and by the beautiful tumbled glass you can find along the shore.

Moroccan Bungalow Kitchen

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Paint and tile took this 1920’s kitchen from glum to glam. Pale green upper cabinets and backsplash tile set off the cool Hawaiian blue granite counters, the warm tones of the mahogany cabinets, and Dylan Gold’s reclaimed-wood island.

 

Remodeled Victorian Kitchen

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Colorful backsplash tiles contribute a mix of whimsy and history in this updated Victorian in San Francisco. The Iznik design (annsacks.com) is based on 16th-century Turkish originals. The kitchen also features eco-friendly cast-stone countertops and reclaimed wood floors and cabinets.

 

Kitchen Island for Socializing

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Centered on a sociable semicircular island, this kitchen has plenty of space for multiple chefs to work while guests sip and chat.

 

Kitchen in Plain Sight

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Featured in Sunset’s May 1966 issue, this award-winning La Mesa hillside home near San Diego was considered a model of indoor-outdoor living.  The renovated kitchen retains the original footprint minus the overhead cabinets that isolated it from the dining area.

 

Retro Ranch Kitchen

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Matthew and Jennifer Hibbard of Scottsdale, Arizona, did most of the work on their retro ranch themselves. Jennifer found the Silestone quartz countertop online, never seeing it in person. It arrived a perfect fit for this kitchen-dining area.

 

Open Kitchen Shelving

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Open shelves feel hospitable―guests can just grab wineglasses off the shelf―and force you to edit.

Try following this homeowner’s rule of thumb: “If you use it more than once a week, have it out. If you use it a few times a month, stick it in a cabinet. Once or twice a year? It belongs in the basement.”

 

Kitchen Storage Solution

 

If the kitchen lacks a proper pantry, get creative. The owners of this 700-square-foot bungalow mounted a wall rack to store their wine.

 

Innovative Kitchen

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This white kitchen is in one of three apartments in an innovative triplex. The top-floor unit shown here overlooks the park next door. Flat cabinets and sleek counters in the kitchen enhance the spacious feeling.

 

Sunny Kitchen Remodel

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Rich and Linda Peters wanted to preserve and enhance the architectural style of their 1929 San Mateo house while opening the kitchen to the outdoors.  They selected concrete counters, a farmhouse-style sink, and white wood cabinets.   A long center island with a butcher-block surface and deep overhangs is great for two-person cooking, prep work, and entertaining.

 

A Kitchen with Layers of Color

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The clean design of this blue and white kitchen is layered with pops of energetic color. The red drum pendant from Croft & Little illuminates the bamboo island top from Teragren. Glass-front cabinets provide a showcase for colorful pottery.

The bamboo-topped table on casters tucks under the island and can roll away for use throughout the house or outside. Mixing up the chair styles adds casual appeal.

 

Midcentury Kitchen

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The owners of this 1953 ranch wanted to strip the home back to its roots and open the interior to the surrounding yard.  New walnut veneers restore period charm to the original kitchen cabinets. Existing slate flooring was kept in place, and the interior of the concrete block walls was sandblasted to add texture.

The 1950s aesthetic was hardly limited to stainless steel and molded plastic. The use of wood, especially walnut and mahogany, was a main design feature of that era.

 

Warm Kitchen

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A modern farmhouse is what the designer had in mind when she remodeled her kitchen.  By removing the wall that closed off the room from the rest of the house, they gained 5 feet of living space and united the layout.  After opening up the kitchen, they devised a means of closing it off when needed. From the kitchen window, you can see goats and a big barn up the hill. That inspired the sliding barn door.”

 

Big kitchen

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When your home is less than 700 square feet, you have to pick your priorities. In this 1907 San Francisco cottage three cramped rooms made way for a spacious, light-filled kitchen with garden views.

 

Cool and Bright Kitchen

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This kitchen’s color palette robin’s egg blue walls, smoky lilac cabinets is like a muted Monet painting. Several paints and even the floor stain were custom-mixed. White field tile by B&W Tile keeps things light.

 

 

Kitchen Nook

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A built-in banquette opposite the central cooking station is a cozy family gathering spot for games and casual meals.

 

Eat-in Kitchen

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This eat-in kitchen opens to the rear porch through a glass door. Double-hung windows above the sink allow in air and light. The table legs are painted white to match the walls, ceiling, and cabinet trim. The flooring is reclaimed from old schoolhouses.

 

Jewel-Like Cabin Kitchen

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The open, well-lit kitchen is the central gathering spot in this house.  The appliance-free island was made from a stainless steel and butcher block workspace purchased at a restaurant-supply store, then covered on three sides with plywood.

 

Modern Boathouse Kitchen

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This boathouse anchored on a Seattle lake features bamboo-finished cabinets and ample natural light and ventilation.

 

Fresh, Colorful Kitchen

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White Shaker-style cabinet fronts are a bright foil for the vibrant glass-tile backsplash. New niches display cobalt bowls. A two-toned, two-tiered concrete counter pale green above and charcoal gray below adds sleek style to the work and serving spaces.

 

White Victorian kitchen

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Calacatta marble gives the kitchen island and counters a lustrous look.

It may be traditional, but it certainly isn’t stuffy. The remodel stayed true to the home’s period details and old-fashioned charm while infusing it with youthful, contemporary sophistication.

 

Revitalized Craftsman

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An unlikely blend of materials and salvaged goods finds visual balance in this kitchen. A painted tin ceiling, stainless steel counters, and blue glass tile mesh seamlessly.

 

Reunion ranch: Cookhouse

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The cabin’s cookhouse is where everyone gathers to eat and spend time together. The unique arrangement of this retreat allows for plenty of space for group activities.

 

Kitchen Bar

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A gap in the L-shaped counter (to the right of the chairs here) created a better flow from this family kitchen to the breakfast nook, and out to the garden.

 

Prefab Kitchen

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The open kitchen (with white Ikea cabinetry) makes the scant square footage in this modern prefab seem expansive.

 

Eco-Conscious Kitchen

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Smooth slim concrete counters from Concreteworks edge the kitchen’s perimeter. A thick concrete slab on the island gets its texture and golden flecks of color from recycled rice hulls.

Light-Filled Kitchen Makeover

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Two decisions in this remodel were key: replacing a window at one end of the gallery-like space with a glass Dutch door and wrapping three sides of the room with a counter. The counter passes in front of the Dutch door, becoming a breakfast bar; light coming through the door washes the floor and walls.

 

Summer Retreat Kitchen

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The kitchen appears bigger than its 15-by-15 footprint thanks to its spare coastal palette of white paint (Benjamin Moore “Super White”), bamboo countertops (Teragren), reclaimed barn wood flooring (Black’s Farmwood) and blue/cream ceramics (Soulé Studio).

Basket pendant lamps by Beach House Style highlight the kitchen island (Woodenbridge, Inc.).

 

Tahoe Retreat Kitchen

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A mix of redwood, stainless steel Electrolux appliances, and slate floors makes for a contemporary cabin feel in this expansive home. A band of picture windows by Pella creates a vivid transparent backsplash.

 

Playful farmhouse kitchen

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Formerly a slender galley, this kitchen is now an open, multipurpose space with an adjacent hallway that serves as the drop zone for backpacks, mail, and shoes.

An antique barrister card catalog serves as an ingenious storage system for miscellaneous household items.

An 1887 tavern table serves as the island in this family-friendly kitchen. The 1920s utility sink is from a salvage yard.

 

Flexible Galley Kitchen

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Seattle architect  opened this 250-square-foot galley-style kitchen to adjacent rooms and used subtle level changes to define each area. The flexible plan makes the space ideal for breakfast for 1 or a dinner party for 10.

 

DIY Concrete Countertop

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The kitchen in this Alaska cabin was rebuilt from the bare studs. Vertical storage keeps cooking tools handy. The owners poured the concrete counter themselves.

Airy Kitchen-Living Space

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Floor-to-ceiling French doors open off the kitchen onto a small deck. A wood table and benches mixed with metal dining chairs create a relaxed look. The breakfast bay acts as a daylight-catcher that brightens the rest of the kitchen. A marble backsplash and wood display shelf make the kitchen handsome enough to entertain in.

 

Red Kitchen Island

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A coat of brick-red paint makes the island the star of this kitchen. For a sophisticated look, try pairing one red object with neutral tones. Here, dark-wood surfaces and stainless steel appliances do the trick.

 

Light-Infused Kitchen

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Built in 1869, this home needed an updated kitchen and more light in interior rooms.  Owner and architect replaced a 1920s shed-roof addition at the back with a slightly larger addition that allowed the kitchen to move out of the historic part of the house.

She turned the new kitchen into a large light box with a translucent roof made of aluminum-and-fiberglass Kalwall panels. Widened openings between the major rooms further brighten the interior.

 

A Cook’s Sophisticated Kitchen

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Maple cabinets in a natural finish and countertops in a light green concrete give this kitchen an earthy but sophisticated feeling.

 

Sleek, Open Kitchen

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Bright lights, large rectangular openings, and a simple palette of green, blue, white, and stainless steel create a clean look and a handsome foil for the curvilinear barstools.

Open shelves around the sink and range hold smaller objects, such as dishes, serving bowls, and glasses—items the couple uses every day.

 

Wide-Open Kitchen

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Big curved beams create a wide-open kitchen/family room. Clerestory windows bounce the light off the ceiling, brightening the space.

 

Updated Victorian Kitchen

 

In the kitchen, a Carrara marble counter and backsplash and black-and-white checkered flooring form graphic backdrops for this refurbished Victorian.

63 Kitchen Design Ideas from Sunset

11 Mistakes to Avoid When Grilling Steak, According to Chefs

It’s never too early to start prepping for barbecue season—so go ahead and bookmark this.

Purists assert that a good-quality cut of steak is done ill justice at the hands of an overzealous grill. Contrast that to cheaper cuts like chuck roast, for example, which come to their prime slowly and forgivingly when slowly cooked. Cooking steak, therefore, is a paradoxically delicate matter for a powerfully primal affair. So it’s understandable that many diners and home cooks err on the side of overcooking it, especially if the quality of the meat might not be top shelf.

Regardless of what your preferences are—and we’re not knocking any of ‘em—here are eleven mistakes to avoid on your next steak night.

Choose the right piece of steak. The quality of your final product depends on your starting ingredients.

“Finding the best product you can get your hands on is always the hardest part of cooking a great steak”. “There’s really only three things in my opinion that make for a good grilled steak: Beef, salt, and fire.”

“We only work with USDA Prime beef, which is the highest grade of beef available and accounts for only 1.5% of the beef in the nation. Fat is flavor, so look for beef that looks plump, bright red and has the most marbling. Marbling is the intramuscular fat present in high-quality beef that gives it a ‘marbled’ appearance. Grain-fed or grain finished beef will have more marbling than a grass-fed beef.”

On aged steak:

If you’re lucky enough to be able to find a butcher that has dry-aged beef,I highly recommend trying anything aged from 15 to 30 days until you become acquainted with the flavor.”

Chef Joe Cervantez agrees, specifying that “steaks eat best at 23 to 28 days.” He’s executive chef at Brennan’s of Houston. “Most steaks from the grocery store are aged 14 days,” he says. If you’re up for trying your hand at aging and are lucky enough to have access to a cryovac, he recommends packing the meat in an airtight seal until it hits at least 23 days.

On cuts and thickness: 

Certain types of steaks best lend themselves to grilling. Skirt steak for a hot grill, whereas a NY strip steak or ribeye is best for a cast-iron pan over a burner. (For pan cooking,  a 3/4-inch to 1-inch steak is recommended because the thickness gives you the time to get a nice crust on the outside without overcooking the inside.

Don’t cook your steaks straight from the fridge. 

Prentiss recommends taking out your steak from the fridge about one hour before you’re going to cook it and setting it on a roasting rack. (This is also the best time to season it with salt, ideally medium grain sea salt, he says. More on that below.)

Season your steaks a couple of hours in advance and then let them come to room temperature before cooking. There’s an exception, however: If [the steak] on the thinner side, starting it cold will give a buffer from overcooking the center.

While chefs differ about the amount of room temp time before cooking, chef Dinesh Jayawardena recommends not squeezing the time below a half hour.

Don’t use the wrong kind of salt, and when in doubt, oversalt.

True sea salt is always the way to go when seasoning a steak,” Prentiss says. “We use Jacobsen’s Kosher Salt from Portland, Oregon. The grains are medium sized and have a pleasant minerality that lends itself perfectly to grilled beef. Any true fleur de sel or sel gris type sea salt will work well for good beef. Avoid table salt, iodized salt or small fine-grain sea salts as they have more weight to volume than larger grain salts and you can easily over season with them. Just think medium grain, true sea salt.”

Always overseason your steaks a bit. When you think it’s enough, always add a little more. A lot of salt and pepper always falls off during the cooking process and doesn’t always penetrate the meat.

Now is not the time to be shy about seasoning, as salt is the most important ingredient you could ever add to a steak. Do this before you let the steaks rest so the seasoning has time to work its way deep into the meat.”

Don’t season your steak too soon—yes, that’s a thing.

With larger steaks, it’s always a good idea to finish with some large flake or finishing salt once it’s sliced. If you do not have an hour to temper and season ahead of time, season immediately before grilling, anything shorter than 40 minutes will only pull moisture out of the steak and not let the outside get those beautiful grill marks and crust.

Add a bit of olive oil as well, which he says help gets better sear or griddle marks. If you do decide to add some fat, stick with olive oil, not butter. There is no real need for butter when cooking a steak because it already has plenty of fat and flavor in the meat itself.

Make sure it’s super dry before it hits the heat.

Make sure you pat down your meat. Dry meat forms the best crust.

Don’t use lighter foil or charcoal briquettes if you can avoid it.

Always avoid lighter fluid if possible, and while convenient, charcoal briquettes can add an unpleasant kerosene flavor to meat grilled meats and should be avoided. If a wood/natural lump charcoal fire is unavailable or too inconvenient, propane grills will ultimately yield a better steak than charcoal briquettes and lighter fluid.

The best way to go, however, is hardwood or hardwood lump charcoal. Natural solid fuels add the most flavor to steaks while complementing their natural flavors instead of overpowering them.

Don’t start without a super hot grill.

Be sure to let your charcoal fully catch and heat up before attempting to grill on it, about 20-30 minutes. Your fire should have a bed of red-hot coals, [with] high, even heat across the grill, and minimal flames and smoke.”

A hot cooking surface is extremely important to caramelize the outside of the steak and secure in the flavor. This method will give you a crispy on the outside, yet moist and tender on the inside steak.

Don’t forget the thermometer—even if you’re a pro.

One of the most important things to remember. Temping a steak by hand can be tricky. It takes a ton of practice and a ton of experience. You have to cook a steak a thousand times just to suck at it.

Don’t have a meat thermometer on hand? use metal cake testers. People always are looking for secrets on how to get the perfect steak doneness. We use metal cake testers. They’re the best tool you can use for this. Insert the metal tester into the steak, leave it for five seconds, then pull it out and touch it to your lips or inner wrist. The internal temp of the steak will tell you how done it is. If it is cold, your steak is rare, if it is just warm, medium rare, slightly hot, medium and etc. No more pushing on it to test it what happens when you hit a muscle knot? and now it is even easier. Plus, cake testers are less than a dollar and you can get them in baking sections or on Amazon.”

 Here are numbers to aim for: 

Rare: 120-130°F

Medium rare: 130-135°F

Medium: 140-145°F

Medium Well: 150-155°F

Well: 160-165°F

Don’t flip your steak more than once.

Keep away from overturning your steak. Let the Maillard reaction do its thing.” (That’s the fancy name for the chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars, which gives browned and caramelized food its distinctive flavor.  Ideally, you should turn the steak once on each side (to get those crosshatch grill marks), and only flip it once.

Avoid individual steaks, if cooking for a crowd.

Don’t be afraid to go with one large steak like a 32 oz Ribeye or 1-kilo Porterhouse for a group as opposed to multiple individual steaks. One large steak is easier to manage and monitor on a grill than multiple smaller ones and armed with a good thermometer, any cook can nail a perfect medium-rare every time. Larger steaks like those work well for two to six people because once sliced, the steak will have some slices that are cooked to the preference of each guest. Because of the inherent internal variation of cooking times within one steak,  you can accommodate diners who prefer “medium rare” and “medium well” with just one piece of meat.

Don’t forget to let the steak rest.

Cooking the steak to ten degrees below your desired temp and then resting it allows for the collagen in the meat to thicken the juices as it cools slightly. This creates a way juicier steak than just cooking straight to temp.

Let it rest. This is crucial. Just because the steak is out of the pan doesn’t mean it stopped cooking. Keep it in a warm place you don’t want a cold steak and rest it for about as long as you cooked it.

Allowing the steak to rest for half the cooking time before serving so if your steak takes 10 minutes to cook, you’d let it rest for five.

If you’re not able to keep the steak warm while it rests, or you want to eat it quite hot,  return the steak to the grill after it’s rested and bring it up to the internal temperature of your preference before eating.

11 Mistakes to Avoid When Grilling Steak, According to Chefs

Kitchens That Rock Not-White Cabinets

White cabinets remain at the top of kitchen wish lists, but they’re not for everyone. The following kitchens, pulled from the most popular photos uploaded to Houzz, feature cabinets in various takes on wood, and paint tones to create spaces that range from rich and warm to light and airy. The most popular is saved for last.
Kitchens That Rock Not-White Cabinets