When you think of Cajun and Creole cuisine, dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, etouffee and red beans and rice come to mind. These dishes blend tender vegetables, seafood and meat with flavorful broth and spices to create an unforgettable combination. Unless you’ve spent time in Louisiana, though, you’ve maybe never had the traditional version of these dishes made with tasso ham, a Cajun ham that takes classic Southern recipes to the next level. But what is tasso ham, and what can you use if you can’t find it?

What Is Tasso Ham (and Where Does It Come From)?

Tasso ham is a spiced, smoked pork product made from boneless pork shoulder. That makes it fattier and richer than other types of ham, which are made from the leaner hind leg.

Unlike ham, tasso isn’t typically eaten on its own. That is to say, you wouldn’t make a ham sandwich using tasso. Instead, this sliced or diced product is added to soups, stews, beans and braised vegetable dishes, where it imparts its rich flavor into the broth and simmers long enough to become soft and tender. In some recipes, tasso is treated like sausage or bacon and browned before being used as a garnish. It’s fantastic when combined with poultry, meat or vegetables, but it also tastes great with seafood (like these baked oysters with tasso cream).

While tasso’s origins are hard to track down, we know the word tasso comes from the Spanish word tasajo, which roughly translates to jerky or cured dried meat. Although the word is Spanish, tasso finds its home in the American South, specifically Louisiana where it’s used in Bayou cuisine.

How Does Tasso Taste?

To make tasso ham, a boneless pork shoulder is sliced into one-inch steaks (although it’s sometimes cured whole and sliced later). The meat is salt-cured for a few hours before being heavily spiced with Cajun seasoning. Finally, the ham is smoked until it’s fully cooked, loading it with a rich flavor that’s hard to beat.

In addition to tasting smoky, the curing process makes tasso ham spicy and salty, so it’s a little too intense to eat on its own. It’s a great seasoning addition to dishes like jambalaya, gumbo, Cajun Corn Soup or braised collard greens. Tasso’s texture is firm, which helps it hold up in simmered or braised dishes. After hours of stewing, tasso’s firmness melts, and the salinity is removed into the cooking liquid, turning tasso into a delightfully flavorful, tender and soft bite.

What’s a Good Substitute for Tasso?

Tasso ham is one of the easiest hams to make at home, although the process is time-consuming. My favorite recipe comes from Brian Polcyn and Michael Ruhlman in Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. If you don’t have time to make it, you can buy it at grocery stores or butcher stores…in South Louisiana, anyway.

Outside Louisiana, you’ll have to turn to online retailers (more on that later).

The easiest substitute for tasso ham is regular ham. It’s often sweeter than tasso, so it won’t have the same deeply spicy flavor. When using regular ham, plan to add extra spices to the recipe and maybe a splash of liquid smoke. Ham hocks also make a good substitute, although you’ll need to cook them long enough to make the hocks tender (two to three hours).

Sausages like Spanish chorizo, Portuguese linguica or andouille sausage are fantastic options, too. These sausages are either smoked or seasoned with paprika, giving them a similar rich, smoky character. Mexican chorizo works, too, although it has a tangier, less smoky flavor.

Other suitable substitutes include Canadian bacon or salt pork. Keep in mind that each of these substitutions has a different flavor profile, so you may need to adjust the seasonings in the recipe accordingly.

Where Can You Buy Tasso Ham?

If you live in Louisiana, you’ll likely find tasso at specialty grocery stores and butcher shops. Outside Louisiana, it’s hard to get at the store. Luckily, you can find it online from Amazon and Walmart. D’Artagnan also sells a nitrate- and nitrite-free tasso ham.

Potatoes are an essential part of our diets, and that’s probably because there are so many different ways to prepare them. Baked potatoes, french fries, potato chips—you name it, there’s a recipe! But have you ever found that, while chopping up your spuds, they begin to take on a slightly pink hue? Don’t worry, we’re here to tell you why.

Why Do Potatoes Turn Pink?

There’s a simple explanation for your pink potato. It’s a chemical reaction that happens when enzymes in the potato are exposed to air. This kind of reaction should be familiar to most home cooks, because it often happens with fruit, like when apples turn brown after they’re cut.

Are Pink Potatoes Safe to Eat?

Your pink-tinged potato is “perfectly safe to eat,” according to the Idaho Potato Commission. Unlike green potatoes, which can be bitter and unsafe to eat, there’s nothing wrong with pink potatoes. Once you roast the spuds, the pink hue will be replaced by a crispy golden exterior.

Here’s how to tell if your gray ground beef is safe to eat.

How Do I Stop This from Happening?

There are a handful of ways to prevent potatoes from turning pink. First, use a sharp knife or potato peeler. This helps to reduce damage to the potato and scale back the chemical reaction. Next, use your potatoes right after you cut them. If you know your potatoes will be sit around for a while before they hit the pan, stick them in some cold water. It creates a barrier between the spuds and the air. You may never need to worry about pink potatoes again!

Easy Potato Recipes Prepped in 15 Minutes
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Dairy Queen is known for a lot of things, but right at the top of the list is definitely their famous soft serve. The delicious treat has always been a staple for the chain, and it’s the key to the super popular Dairy Queen Blizzard.

While we might have ordered it a million times, there are plenty of things we didn’t know about the Blizzard—including the fact that its main ingredient isn’t technically ice cream. So if you’ve wondered, “Is Dairy Queen real ice cream?” we’ve got the answers.

Why DQ’s Soft Serve Can’t Be Called Ice Cream

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations for what can be called “ice cream” require the product to contain at least 10% butterfat or milkfat. Initially, DQ’s soft serve fit in the category of “ice milk”, but the FDA removed this category and instead allowed companies to sort their products into three new ones: “reduced-fat,” “light” and “low-fat” ice cream.

According to the new regulations, Dairy Queen’s soft serve is now in the “reduced-fat” ice cream category, while their shake mix is considered “low-fat” ice cream. However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean that their products are 95% fat-free! These categories only confirm the percentage of butterfat, which is 5% in the case of DQ’s soft serve.

That’s Not the Only Difference

While the definitions may have changed, DQ’s recipe for its soft serve has never undergone any changes since its inception. However, Dairy Queen’s soft serve differs from “ice cream” in more ways than just its milkfat content. If you’ve ordered up a Blizzard, you’ve definitely noticed how soft and pliable it is compared to regular ice cream. This is because soft serve ice cream has air added into it to enhance creaminess during the freezing process.

The soft serve is also kept at a different temperature when compared to regular ice cream, and contains emulsifiers to keep all the ingredients together. These differences are also why DQ Blizzards don’t fall out of the cup!

Can’t get enough of DQ’s soft serve? Don’t forget to check out their latest Blizzard—or if nostalgia’s more your thing, opt for a Peanut Butter Bash Sundae!

Ever found yourself pouring Baileys into a spiked hot chocolate or shaking up a couple of mai tais for a tiki party and wondering, what’s the different between liquor and liqueur?

It’s a common question, and we’ll break it down so you’ll never mix the two up again—unless you’re making cocktails, of course.

There are a few key differences when it comes to liquor vs. liqueur. First, liquor and spirits are one and the same. Another quick tip to fall back on is to look at the alcohol percentages. Liquors are boozier than liqueurs. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves! Let’s dive into the basics.

What Is Liquor?

Liquors are spirits, those strong distilled alcohols made with grains, sugar cane, grapes and so on. In other words, liquors are vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila and rum, all perfect for when it’s time to break out the cocktail shaker.

Spirits range in alcohol content. The minimum is 20% alcohol by volume (ABV) on the low end of the spectrum, with most bottled around 40%. Some liquors boast higher ABV levels, like navy strength gin and overproof rum.

In short, if you plan to make a martini, sip on a G&T or say cheers with an Old-Fashioned, you’re going to need liquor.

What Is Liqueur?

While liqueurs contain spirits (i.e., liquor), they’re also blended with other ingredients. Think spices, herbs, flowers and fruits, along with other flavorings, and most notably, sugar. Yes, liqueurs are delightfully sweet tipples enjoyed not only in cocktails (where they’re usually mixed with liquor) but also as after-dinner drinks, whether neat, over ice or splashed into a cup of coffee. Common liqueurs include amaretto, kahlua, sambuca and Irish cream.

Liqueurs have a lower alcohol content compared to spirits, usually between 15 and 30%, though there are some exceptions. In the past, the ancestors of many of our modern liqueurs were used as herbal tonics and medicines, and some, like Chartreuse, remain with us today. You’ll find many types of liqueurs: chocolate, flower, fruit, nut, cream, coffee and several more to boot.

From your classic Godfather made with amaretto to the Kahlua and Baileys-infused mudslide (aka a grown-up milkshake), liqueur transforms cocktails from good to great. Keep a couple of bottles of liqueur in your home bar—right next to your liquor.

Easy Mixed Drinks Anyone Can Master
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I was slow to jump on the air fryer train, thinking it was a gimmicky appliance (looking at you, quesadilla maker) that I had no room in my kitchen for. Then I found out that “air fryer” was a flashy name for “tiny high-powered convection oven that fits on your countertop and will change your life forever.” I bought one immediately and never looked back!

When I was a professional chef, the only ovens I ever used were convection ovens, which cook food by rapidly circulating hot air, and maintain a more even temperature than a regular home oven. Then I became a professional recipe developer working out of my own kitchen, and remembered why it’s so hard for home cooks to get restaurant-caliber results.

Even though they’re much smaller than professional convection ovens, there’s a lot you can do in an air fryer. (These are the best air fryers, according to the Taste of Home Test Kitchen). To prove it, I spent two weeks cooking three meals a day for our family using only an air fryer.

How I Used My Air Fryer


breakfast tacos out of the air fryer

My family of four doesn’t eat breakfast at the same time, nor does anyone like the same things—my wife and I like “fancy” things like omelets and veggie-packed hashes, while our teenage sons prefer toasted bagels and frozen waffles. And thanks to its versatility, all of these things can be easily made in the air fryer with minimal mess. Anything that keeps me from needing to clean the kitchen in the morning is A-OK in my book.

At first, we all kept our air-fryer breakfasts pretty simple. The kids made toast they could schmear with peanut butter or jam (air fryers also work as toasters); my wife made air-fryer hard-boiled eggs she could drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with good salt; I’d whisk up some eggs with leftover veggies from the previous evening’s dinner, divide between two ramekins, and make myself a pair of mini-frittatas. All of these things were so easy to make, we were always able to start our day with a delicious breakfast, no matter how groggy we were.

Because the air fryer was easy to use and didn’t leave us with a sink of dirty dishes, all four of us began upgrading our breakfast game significantly. The kids learned how to make eggs Lorraine; my wife and I would crack eggs into ramekins filled with tomato sauce and spices for individual shakshuka. While cooking dinner, I’d whip up quick and easy things that could be kept in the refrigerator to be air-fried the next morning, like homemade sausage patties and cinnamon breakfast bites.


grilled cheese out of the air fryer

Lunch is usually simple since my wife and I work from home and don’t want to do dishes in the middle of the day. Many times, we’d use the air fryer to heat up leftovers from the night before since, unlike the microwave, air fryers can be used for foods that are meant to be crisp. (It’s now the only way any of us will reheat cold pizza.) And while she and I are more than capable of whipping up a gourmet lunch, we did discover the wonders of air-fryer grilled cheese. Then we upped our game to fancy grilled cheese, which is any kind of sandwich with a slice of cheese and mayo smeared on the outside, popped in the air fryer until bubbly and golden brown.

Another lunch we fell back in love with: mini English muffin pizzas. My wife and I both made those as after school snacks when we were kids, and realized they were a perfect recipe for the air fryer. We started riffing off that recipe like we did with the grilled cheese sandwiches. One of our favorites was a Tex Mex-inspired version with crumbled chorizo, cheddar cheese and my guilty pleasure, Taco Bell hot sauce.


tofu stir fry made with an air fryer

I figured dinner would be a cinch, considering there’s no shortage of amazing air-fryer recipes out there: air-fryer pickles, coconut shrimp and beef Wellington were all big hits in this house!

But where the air fryer truly excelled was the nights where I was so exhausted, I could barely bring myself to cook. Toss some tofu and vegetables in soy marinade, throw it all into a 400°F air fryer, watch some TV and before you know it, dinner is served. Chicken thighs marinated in salad dressing, salmon steaks brushed with bottled teriyaki sauce, frozen shrimp tossed with blackening spices—the air fryer was made for mindless cooking; “can do” on days you “can’t even.”

I followed the suggested cooking times given in my air fryer’s manual, and got a fantastic dinner every single time.

What I Learned About Air-Fryer Cooking

Keep it clean

When you only use your air fryer occasionally, it’s pretty easy to clean—usually a quick wipe down or rinse is all you need. But when you’re using your air fryer for three meals a day, it needs a deep clean every night.

Fortunately, this isn’t hard to do! After shaking off any crumbs and stuck-on food, the air fryer baskets and drip tray go into the dishwasher at the end of the day and are ready to use again when we wake up for breakfast.

Learn how to clean an air fryer.

Preheating is key

Just like a big oven, your air fryer (a small oven!) cooks best when it’s been preheated. But, because of its compact size, it only takes 60-90 seconds for your air fryer to get hot. The results are worth waiting for—food comes out browner, crispier and more evenly cooked. Preheating is only one of the simple air fryer hacks that will make your meals delicious.

Don’t forget to spray

Even though many air fryers have nonstick interiors, always give your trays and basket a light spritz of cooking spray before adding your food. We learned the hard way that there is such a thing as “too much cheese,” and a little cooking spray will save you from a lot of scrubbing.

Use cookware

Don’t think of an air fryer as a fryer—think of it as an oven. Make use of ramekins, cake pans and other air-fryer accessories, which will open your air fryer up to a whole new world of possibilities.

Air-Fryer Recipes You Need to Try
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Cake bakers are an adventurous sort. Who else would dare to transform dessert into a unicorn, stack layer upon layer or bare it all with a naked cake? With bakes like that under their belts, we know cake bakers won’t shy away from a new challenge: a vertical cake roll.

This showstopping bake is similar to a cake roll or jelly roll, but instead of rolling the sponge into a log, you roll thinner sheets of cake into a shorter, squatter form. It might look like a daunting project, but we know that intrepid bakers are up to the challenge.

For more baking challenges, be sure to check out Bakeable, our baking community.

What to Know About Making Vertical Cakes

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I consulted with Mark Neufang in the Taste of Home Test Kitchen about vertical cakes. Mark is an absolute whiz with desserts and created this recipe for a jaw-droppingly gorgeous vertical carrot cake.

While developing this carrot cake, Mark became an absolute pro at vertical cake rolls. I can attest to his skills and the decadence of this particular cake. However, you don’t need to limit yourself to this specific recipe (though Mark and I both encourage you to try it!).

For the sponge, Mark recommends a sponge cake. That means you should skip any recipes for flourless cakes, pound cakes or any other dense desserts. Mark says, “Sponge cakes are best as they are a bit more pliant and springy.”

If you have a hard time knowing where to start, opt for a cake roll recipe as a base. These cakes are designed to be rolled up and filled. As for the filling, buttercreams and cream cheese frostings are ideal. They’ll hold their shape and are easy to work with. For best results, steer clear of whipped cream frostings. These won’t hold up to the rolling.

Tools for Making a Vertical Cake

  • Jelly roll pansCakes like these require thin layers. Jelly roll pans (that’s a 15x10x1-inch pan) will do the trick.
  • Tea towelsTo train the cake to roll into that perfect spiral, you’ll roll a warm sponge up in clean towels. Pick thin tea towels or flour sack towels for this task.
  • Offset spatula: To get an even layer of frosting on this cake (or any cake), be sure to use an offset spatula. They come in all sorts of sizes. Keep a large one and a smaller option on hand.
  • Cake turntable: While a turntable isn’t strictly necessary for making a vertical cake, it is an incredibly handy tool to have on hand for frosting cakes of all kinds. It also makes a great gift for cake bakers!

How to Assemble a Vertical Cake

Step 1: Bake and Roll the Cakes

To get the right thickness for a vertical cake roll, bake the cakes in a jelly roll pan (that’s a 15x10x1-inch pan). Make sure the pans are greased and lined with parchment paper.

When the cakes are fully baked, turn them out onto tea towels dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Then carefully peel away the parchment paper. “If the cake seems to stick,” Mark says, “use an offset spatula to gently coax the cake from the paper as you go.”

Once the parchment is gone, roll the cakes, starting with the short side, into the tea towel. It should look like a jelly roll but with a towel in lieu of filling. Be sure to do this when the cake is still warm, according to Mark. If the cakes are cool, they won’t roll as well and are liable to crack.

Leave the cakes to cool in the towels. If you plan on prepping the cake more than a few hours in advance, wrap the cakes in plastic or pop them in an air-tight container to prevent them from drying out.

Step 2: Slice and Frost

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When you’re ready to assemble, unroll the cakes carefully and slice them into 15×5-inch strips (that’s in half the long way).

Then break out that offset spatula and frost each section of the cake leaving a bit of unfrosted sponge around the edge. Each section will require about a cup of frosting. Mark explains that any more than that will make your cake a bit more slippery when you turn it upright later.

Pop the cakes into the fridge until the frosting firms up—15 minutes or so. This will prevent the frosting from oozing out of the cake as you roll.

Step 3: Start Rolling

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When the frosting has firmed up a bit, it’s time to get rolling. Start by rolling up one section of the cake from the short edge.

“Don’t worry if the cake starts to crack a little bit,” says Mark. “Unlike a traditional jelly roll cake, the sides will be covered up inside and by a layer of frosting.”

However, if the cake is cracking into pieces (versus small hairline cracks), Mark says you may have let the cake chill too long. If that’s the case, take a quick break and let the cake warm up a bit at room temperature.

Step 4: Piece the Cake Together

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When that first section is almost completely spiraled, get ready to piece in the next portion of the cake. Carefully align the next section and pinch the seams together as best you can to keep the cake smooth.

Then keep the cake rolling and continue to work it into a spiral with each section.

There will be an uneven edge on the cake where the last section of the sponge ends, but Mark says don’t fret! This will all be covered up with frosting in the next step.

Step 5: Flip the Cake Upright and Frost

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With your cake perfectly spiraled, it’s time to turn it on its end. Take a deep breath and have your cake stand or turntable at the ready. Carefully grip the cake and flip it on its spiraled end.

If the cake doesn’t look perfectly even, Mark says don’t worry. “Feel free to gently shape it into more of a cylinder,” he explains. Be sure to use both hands to keep the cake as symmetrical as possible.

Once the cake is sitting pretty on your cake plate, use a bit of buttercream to paste the edge of the cake into place. Then frost the exterior like you would for any other layer cake. An offset spatula and turntable will make getting a smooth finish effortless.

When you’re done frosting the sides and top, refrigerate the cake for at least two hours (overnight is even better!). When you’re ready to serve, let the cake stand for 15 minutes at room temperature and then slice. Each slice will reveal layers upon layers of cake and frosting. Get ready for all the oohs and aahs!

Bake More Gorgeous Cakes
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